Pakistan deploys Army to help enforce COVID-19 SOPs

Sajjad Hussain
·4-min read

Islamabad, Apr 26 (PTI) Pakistan on Monday deployed army across the country to help civil institutions in implementing the standard operating procedures against the coronavirus, amid the surge in the COVID-19 cases.

Army spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar said that enhanced deployment was done in 16 major cities with “very high positivity rate”.

These cities include Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera, Charsadda and Swabi (in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province), Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur, Gujranwala (Punjab), Karachi and Hyderabad (Sindh), Quetta (Balochistan), Muzaffarabad (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) and Islamabad.

'The primary purpose of deployment of army troops is to help civil institutions and law enforcement agencies,' he said while addressing a press conference in Rawalpindi.

He said that the positivity ratio is more than 5 per cent in 51 cities and soldiers have been sent to those cities also to help the civil administration implement the official guidelines.

Maj Gen Iftikhar said army teams would be led by brigadiers at the administration division level and by lieutenant colonels at the district level.

'In this testing time, Pakistan Army will use all its capabilities to take every possible step for the protection of citizens and their lives. [We] will go to every corner of Pakistan to ensure the protection of citizens,' he said.

Talking about the challenges of COVID-19, he said that the third wave was more dangerous and fatal and the death rate was increasing, putting the healthcare infrastructure under stress.

He said that 75 per cent of Pakistan's oxygen production was dedicated to the healthcare sector currently but it would be enhanced if required by reducing the share of industry.

'The monthly average of corona deaths has been the highest in April. The worldwide fatality rate is 2.12 per cent while the fatality rate in Pakistan has risen over the world fatality rate for the first time during this pandemic to 2.16 per cent,” he said.

Earlier, interior ministry on Sunday issued a set of notifications to deploy the army after Prime Minister Imran Khan said the armed forces would be called to implement the coronavirus related gudelines.

The army deployment comes as Pakistan’s coronavirus tally crossed 800,000 on Monday after 4,825 new cases were detected, while another 70 people succumbed to COVID-19, taking the number of deaths to 17,187, according to the official data.

The Ministry of National Health Services said 4,862 patients were in a critical condition and the number of active patients was 89,219.

Pakistan is scrambling to control the spread of the virus by imposing smart lockdowns and increasing vaccination. Pakistan has imposed smart lockdowns and ramped up vaccination programmes.

The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa imposed a lockdown in Mardan district for seven days due to an increase in the rate of infection. Several other localities in the country are also under lockdown.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has received another batch of one million doses of coronavirus vaccine from China to help it stem the spread of COVID-19 that has infected over 800,000 people and claimed more than 17,100 lives in the country.

Three planes of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) airlifted from China the consignment of one million Chinese-developed Sinopharm vaccines on Sunday. The aircraft had left for China on Saturday.

An additional two million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will also be transported from China by the national flag carrier on April 29, said PIA Country Manager for China Qadir Bux Sangi.

The new consignment arrives as Pakistan struggles to combat the third wave of the pandemic, which has threatened the earlier gains against the coronavirus when the country succeeded to contain the first two outbreaks.

Pakistan has so far administered more than 1.7 million doses of vaccine but it is still a drop in the ocean in a country with over 220 million population.

Last month, Pakistan received second consignment of half a million doses of coronavirus vaccine from China.

Planning Minister Asad Umar said that vaccination drive was being broadened from Tuesday when citizens above 40 years would be allowed to register for jabs. Previously, only people above 50 years could apply for registration. PTI SH ZH ZH