Monday Apr 27, 2020
QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal said Monday the number of locally-transmitted cases in the province were increasing slowly but that the lockdown could only be eased if people started cooperating.
While speaking to the media here in the provincial capital, CM Kamal noted that the government could only know about the number of cases in the province through testing. A mechanism to carry out testing to check the local transmission has been developed, he added.
It was through random testing that the Balochistan health department learned the locally-transmitted cases had increased, he said, adding that 35 new cases via local transmission were reported in Quetta.
"Our testing capacity is improving so we're conducting more tests," Kamal added, noting that a lot needed to be done to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
"Young people, including those who have to go out, have to take care especially," he said. In the coming days, the risk of the novel coronavirus may increase substantially, he cautioned, noting that if the number of patients rose to thousands, then it would be extremely difficult to contain the pandemic.
"The father of an important officer at the CM Secretariat passed away yesterday due to the coronavirus. A former provincial minister also succumbed to the virus," he explained.
The chief minister also advised people not to compare the province with other parts of the country as Balochistan lagged behind in medical facilities both in the public and private sectors. The province was doing a lot given its resources, he added.
“The threat from the coronavirus can increase in the coming days,” CM Kamal said, stressing that the spread of the coronavirus would be "very dangerous here as compared to developed countries".
"People should fear the day when there would be no space in hospitals to accommodate more coronavirus patients," he warned further. The provincial government has decided to make the directive to wear face masks stricter, he added.
Kamal added that following social distancing in Pakistan was quite challenging given the country's culture.
However, he cautioned that the lockdown would be extended if people did not start heeding the instructions.
"An extension or softening of the lockdown depends on the cooperation showed by the people,” Kamal said, adding that a decision in that regard would be taken after the Balochistan government reviewed the situation after the first 10 days of Ramadan.
"In the second stage, we will analyse the impact of the lockdown," he stated.
On cooperation from the federal government, he said Balochistan had received PCR machines, testing kits, and personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Centre while private donors had also provided assistance in terms of kits.
Kamal also spoke of the congregational prayers, saying his government was monitoring the implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the mosques. Should there be a violation, "we will consult the ulema and take action accordingly", he said.
Pakistan's tally of coronavirus cases stood at 13,943, as of reporting time, with 853 people having tested positive for the COVID-19 infection to date. The province has reported 11 deaths as well.