Technology to be used to trace cases, identify virus hotspots

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that the government will use technology to trace coronavirus cases and identify virus hotspots throughout the country to enforce a smart lockdown.
Speaking to media persons here at National Command and Operation Centre on Sunday, Umar said that according to available data, Punjab is enforcing smart lockdown in some 169 areas while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is enforcing smart lockdown in 177 areas. “This could be a big area or as small as one street,” he said.
He expressed the confidence that the decision to ease lockdown in phased manner will be implemented with the national spirit of unity. He said the decision was taken in consultation with all the federating units. He said big policy level decisions have been taken and now it is time for their implementation.
The minister expressed satisfaction that the people have acted with responsibility but they now need to more strictly follow the precautionary measures after the easing of restrictions to avoid the spread of the virus. He said the decision of easing restrictions was taken to provide livelihoods to the people.
The minister said that the government has completed work on a portal where data will be collected from all 424 hospitals dealing with coronavirus patients in the country. “Hospitals have already started entering their data. Through this portal we will be able to know the exact number of beds, ventilators and patients in each hospital.”
The minister said that the government is also working on a mobile application which people could download for getting information about hospitals and coronavirus facilities. “If someone tests positive [for the virus], one can consult the app to find the nearest hospital that has facilities.” He said that this was being done for optimal utilisation of resources.
“Through this app, we will be able to avoid a scenario where hospitals do have facilities but the patient is unable to reach them because he does not know where to go,” he said, adding that the portal and the app both would go live in the next few days.
He said that the government has engaged with the Rural Support Programme Network which, he said, has access to more than 25 per cent of the population. “Not only will we communicate awareness messages through them, they will also identify places where we need to send food etc,” he said.
Umar said that some people have stopped sharing their coronavirus symptoms over the fear that they would be taken to quarantine centres. He clarified that this is not necessarily the case and the government has issued a notification in this regard, saying that people who have the facility to isolate at home should be allowed to do so.
He hailed the services of healthcare professionals, rescue workers, cleaners and other frontline workers and said that it is the responsibility of every citizen to follow precautions so that the virus spread would not get out of control.
Asad Umar said the testing capacity is considerably being enhanced and 13,500 tests were carried out on Saturday (May 9, 2020). He said there are now seventy labs fully equipped to carry out coronavirus tests. Currently there are eighty-five people on the ventilators and 165 are on oxygen. – TLTP

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