National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar said on Friday that the federal government is set to import 6,000 tonnes of oxygen, 5,000 cylinders and 20 cryogenic tanks in a bid to build Pakistan’s capacity as a third Covid-19 wave rages on in the country.
This was decided during the NCOC meeting the previous day, Umar wrote on his official Twitter account.
According to the NCOC chief, it was this kind of “proactive decision making” that helped Pakistan “avoid the kind of scenes being witnessed in some other countries”.
Umar further revealed that the total number of critical care Covid patients on oxygen reached 5,360 on Thursday – 57% more than June last year, when the country last witnessed a peak in cases.
However, Pakistan has so far managed to cope with this current surge due to proactively building capacity of the entire system, from oxygen production to beds, the NCOC chief maintained.
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“Total oxygen production operational capacity in Pakistan last year was 487 tonnes/day. It has been increased to 798 tonnes,” he wrote.
“Oxygen production has gone up from 465 tonnes/day last jun to 725 tonnes currently. We also imported 19,200 oxygen cylinders last year to ensure distribution,” Umar added.
He further stated that despite there being more than 2,000 additional Covid patients on oxygen compared to June last year, Pakistan has not seen the kind of tight supply situation it saw then.
Furthermore, Umar asserted that even though the nationally coordinated proactive decision making based on data analytical approach has been helpful to the nation’s fight against coronavirus. However, he added that the challenge is still far from over.
“The need for precautions and following SOPs is vital at this point in time. Next few weeks are critical,” he wrote, adding that, “No system can cope if we allow the disease to spread rapidly.”
Earlier on Thursday, the NCOC chief said that vaccinations of people aged between 40 to 49 years will start from May 3.
He also stated that the country recorded over 100,000 vaccinations for a second successive day, adding that it was encouraging to see the pace of vaccine registration also picking up.
In order to tackle the third wave of the pandemic hitting Pakistan with full force, the federal government announced a new set of restrictions, including a blanket ban on tourism and inter-provincial transport, in an attempt to contain a further rise in the mounting coronavirus cases during the upcoming Eidul Fitr holidays.
According to the Ministry of Interior, fresh restrictions also included the closure of all tourist resorts, hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, parks, beaches and other public places from May 8 to 16.
There will be a complete ban on inter-provincial and inter-city transport during Eid holidays, except for the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan, who will be allowed to travel to their hometowns.