Calculated response need of hour to fight coronavirus: Pak

Sajjad Hussain

Islamabad, Mar 15 (PTI) A calm, calculated and deliberate response is the need of the hour to fight the novel coronavirus, Pakistan said on Sunday as SAARC countries discussed a joint strategy to protect people of the region from the pandemic.

Pakistan Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Health Zafar Mirza participates in a video conference of SAARC member countries proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to formulate the joint strategy.

Mirza said Pakistan was amongst the first few countries to undertake a joint evaluation of the state of preparedness to cope with health emergences in the context of international health regulations 2005, Radio Pakistan reported.

Highlighting Pakistan's response strategy, the Special Assistant said it has four pillars, which include governance and financing, prevention, mitigation, and communication.

'We have decided to close all our educational institutions for three weeks, entire western border for two weeks, restrict international flights to three airports only and ban all large public gatherings, reinforced screening measures at the airports and at the ground processing,” he said.

Mirza said COVID-19 had been characterized as a global pandemic, but at the same time it is deemed controllable, provided timely and appropriate public health measures are put in place.

He said Pakistan has been involved in the containment efforts right from the outset of the outbreak.

“We have been alert to the dangers and have put in place appropriate public health measures and developed required protocols and guidelines for the safety of our citizens,” he said. He proposed that SAARC secretariat is best place to coordinate at regional level, which should be mandated with establishing a working group of national authorities for health information and data exchange as well as coordination for global responses in real time.

He said that Pakistan would like to reiterate its earlier proposal of hosting SAARC health ministers' conference at an appropriate time. He said the regional countries should reach out to specialised development partners including the WHO for mobilisation for technical advice and resources. PTI SH NSA