Pakistan imports no PPE except N-95 masks: Afzal

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal Monday said Pakistan was not importing any item of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) except N-95 face masks as most of the required PPE was locally produced. Addressing the ceremony organized to hand over 15 PCR testing machines and 15,000 testing kits for coronavirus tests by World Health Organization (WHO) at the National Institute of Health (NIH), he said there was no dearth of any PPEs where as the locally produced equipment was made of global standard clothing.

He was flanked by Country Representative WHO Dr Mahapala and NIH Executive Director Major Gen Aamir Aamir Ikram. He said that in order to control inflow and outflow of traffic effective measures were made at the borders and airports to control coronavirus or COVID-19 transmission within and outside the country.

Recently, he said NDMA had already provided 3,900 pieces of PPEs to all frontline doctors fighting the pandemic in hospitals of the country. “Yesterday, we completed second round of our supplies and provided PPEs to 502 hospitals’ doctors across the country.”

General Afzal said NDMA was in the position to provide over 100,000 PPEs and all other required equipment every week to the doctors across the country. On March 14, there were 14 laboratories working and around 800 tests per day were carried out. “We have 39 functional labs and are also trying to activate 27 more within a weeks time,” said the NDMA chairman.

Out of these, 11 were of the military and today in NDMA’s warehouse around 600,000 samples of testing kits were present and along with these machines it had 14 extra testing machines, which would be distributed among the 27 newly established labs, he added. “We are harnessing our capabilities across the country. A major breakthrough made is of 100 mobile testing labs that are fully equipped and can be placed near the localities fearing outrage of coronavirus patients. It can also help in shifting affected patients to quarantine,” General Afzal said.

He also mentioned that he would raise the matter of testing strategy in today’s National Command and Operation Centre conference. “I will suggest that in case of testing symptomatic people alone rather those localities to be focused that are going to be put under lockdown. It is also being considered to recommend provincial governments for initiating carpet testing of localities that can cause the outbreak of the disease,” he said. General Afzal said that NDMA had planned to get 2,500 ventilators by the end of April that might not happen. “We have also requested WHO for ventilators as well,” he added.

However, there were improvisations made by dedicating almost 40 per cent ventilators which is around 1,348 in number for COVID-19 patients, he said. In case pressure escalates then additional 400 ventilators would be converted on COVID pattern.  “We can sustain 2,500-3,000 patients without major induction of ventilators where as finally, we have 800-1,000 ventilators including non-invasive for normal patients whereas non-invasive will be shifted to COVID pattern.

By the end of April we will receive 1,000 ventilators and in the month of May another 1,000 will reach the country.”

He thanked the entire nation for the financial support to procure the equipment and also appreciated the role of world organizations in assisting Pakistan in its fight against COVID-19.