NDMA readies to tackle locust attack

Lt-Gen Afzal says over 100,000 tonnes of medical items procured from China via 11 flights


Shabbir Husain May 14, 2020
PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: To avert the impending locust attack, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt-Gen Muhammad Afzal on Wednesday said that arrangements have been made for timely land and aerial spray in the stricken regions.

“Around two planes for spraying – out of which one was ordered from Turkey – and five helicopters have been readied to tackle the impending locust attack in the country,” he said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.

Experts have already warned of severe locust attack in the region. “It is predicted that Pakistan and Iran will face the worst desert locust outbreak in 50

years,” Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini had said in an article titled ‘The challenge to food security: a new agenda for regional cooperation’.

Machines have also been installed in the suspected areas, the NDMA chairman said, adding that China has provided spray and sprayers to help Pakistan handle the situation.

Briefing about the relief activities, Lt-Gen Afzal said the government has so far procured over 100,000 tonnes of medical items from China through 11 flights. “To ensure transparency in the buying and delivery of the items all rules were followed,” he added.

The government had opted to follow the self-reliant approach for making ventilators and other medical equipment after the demand and prices for such items shot up.

“Because of the NDMA efforts, the production of medical items started in local markets,” he said, “Today we are buying all the stuff from local markets that saved valuable amount of our funds.”

The NDMA chairman said the authority would review the possibility of exporting locally produced medical items after ensuring the availability of 3-4 months of

stock.

Lt-Gen Afzal said: “There is one month of stock available in the NDMA warehouse.”

He said that it was a big challenge to distribute safety kits to medical staffers, who are being on the front line in the war against coronavirus. Around four

consignments of medical kits have so far been dispatched to the staff treating Covid-19 patients across the country, he said, adding that the delivery of the fifth consignment is underway.

He added that the NDMA promptly addressed the complaints regarding non-delivery of medical kits on its helpline. However, now no such complaints are being received, he claimed.

“We have the ability to conduct 50,000 tests as per the available testing equipment,” Lt-Gen Afzal said. He elaborated that around 70 laboratories are working across the country as compared to only five in March.

Apart from building quarantine centres in the western borders, he said the authority is also providing services for disinfectant sprays and quarantine facilities at airports.

The NDMA chairman said the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Islamabad is nearing completion and hoped that it would start functioning at the end of this

month. “We have proved that we can also build a hospital in one and a half month.”

On the easing of lockdown, he said such a decision is taken to facilitate the common people. “Now it’s everyone’s responsibility to save themselves and others from the coronavirus by following necessary precautionary measures,” Lt-Gen Afzal said.

 

 

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