PESHAWAR: With the number of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases swelling to over 1,000, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) on Friday released an additional Rs406 million for 18 districts of the province to provide facilities at quarantine centres.
A statement issued on Friday read that following instructions from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Rs120 million were released for Khyber District, Rs30 million each for Mansehra, Malakand, Lower Kohistan, and Swat. Another Rs20 Million each for Mardan, Abbottabad, Laki Marwat and Torghar. Moreover, Rs15 million were released for South Waziristan.RS10 million each for Lower Chitral, Buner, Lower Dir, Tank and Mohmand.
Safety equipment has also been provided to the Peshawar District Administration for use in quarantine centres as the city started receiving passengers from abroad.
The equipment includes 10,000 face masks, 1,300 bottles of sanitizers,1,200 personal protective kits,100 protective goggles, 32 nebulisers, 20 thermal guns, 200 bio-disposable bags, 11 disinfecting sprays, 480 paper towels, 500 bottles of surface cleaner and other safety items.
The PDMA director-general said that keeping in view the social distance and other precautionary measures, a video conferencing system has been installed for communicating with all districts.
Separately, K-P Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said that they had increased the capacity for Covid-19 in the province to 600 tests per day, doubling from the capacity last week.
In a Tweet on microblogging site Twitter on Friday, Jhagra said that the laboratory at the Khyber Medical University (KMU) had conducted 426 tests on Thursday while overall 560 tests were conducted in the province, which was more than twice last week’s average of 263 tests.
Jhagra further hinted that the government was looking to boost overall testing capacity in the province through the private sector.
“We are expanding testing in at least eight labs. But we want credible private sector labs to help raise this massively,” the minister said.
“We have launched an RFP to use the private sector at scale (sic),” he said, adding that they were waiting on approval for the National Institute of Health (NIH) to further enhance testing capacity to over 2,000 by early May.
Meanwhile, he said that the provincial government has withdrawn a notification which called for collecting professional tax from government officials, particularly doctors.
The Young Doctors Association of K-P had pointed to a government notification from earlier in the week which sought up to Rs80,000 in professional taxes from specialists practising in Peshawar.
Labour hospitals to host Covid-19 patients
The K-P government on Friday opened up hospitals operating in labour colonies across the province to isolate and treat virus patients.
This announcement came as the province managed to ramp up testing in the province to over 500 per day.
In a statement on Friday, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Labour Department said that all hospitals being run under its social security department have made special arrangements for tackling Covid-19 patients.
In this regard, K-P Minister Labour and Culture Minister Shaukat Yousafzai visited a 25-bed hospital on Kohat Road in Peshawar and reviewed the facilities being provided to patients there.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2020.