ISLAMABAD: With 4,131 people testing positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, Pakistan on Wednesday recorded the highest number of infections in a single day, taking the overall count to 80,463 cases from across the country.
It resulted in the government vowing to increase the testing capacity from 17,000 to 30,000 per day to limit the spread of the outbreak, which has killed 1,688 people thus far.
“The government has set up more coronavirus testing laboratories in the country to meet (the criteria of) 30,000 tests per day,” Asad Umar, Planning and Development Minister said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The announcement follows the deaths of three Pakistani lawmakers who tested positive for coronavirus and succumbed to the disease.
It includes Munir Khan Orakzai from the National Assembly of the Kurram district, Sindh’s provincial minister Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, and Mian Jamshed-ud-Din, a member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and the provincial lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
After nearly two months of a partial lockdown, Pakistan decided to lift the restrictions in May to reboot the frail economy. Still, it urged citizens to follow all standard operating procedures (SOPs) to stem the outbreak.
Critics blame the government for the rapid increase in infections which they say is a result of the relaxed measures.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the government also approved a self-quarantine policy for all inbound passengers and the export of domestically-manufactured Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“We have been able to further increase the number of inbound passengers per week through expediting the testing process – with 20,000 passengers planned for repatriation by 10th June, up from approx. 10,000 in the previous phase,” Moeed Yusuf, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning, tweeted on Tuesday.
He added that all passengers would be “tested on arrival & sent home for self-isolation without having to wait for test results.”
“They’ll be added to the Track & Trace system & provincial governments will be able to follow up to ensure health & safety of passengers & the public.”