Karachi: The drug manufacturers in Pakistan have warned against banning raw material from India, saying it will weaken the country’s ability to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) organised a press conference in Karachi on Monday where they said that import of raw materials for manufacturing medicines should not be stopped from India or any other country.
“At a time when the federal and provincial governments in the country have been in the process of setting up more and more quarantine centres, isolation facilities, and special hospital wards to accommodate Covid-19 cases, there is a dire need to ensure constant supply of essential medicines to treat coronavirus patients,” PPMA senior vice chairman Syed Farooq Bukhari said.
The total number of Covid-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 31,684 on Monday. Out of these, Punjab recorded 11,568 cases, Sindh 12,017, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 4,875, Balochistan 2,017, Islamabad 679, Gilgit-Baltistan 442 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 86 patients.
A total of 28 more people died in the last 24 hours in the country (between Sunday and Monday), taking the tally of Covid-19 deaths in Pakistan to 667. Another 8,212 recovered so far. But Pakistan began to lift its lockdown despite a surge in the number of Covid-19 positive patients.
On Monday, Prime Minister Khan chaired a meeting on the crisis where he was briefed about the latest efforts to control the spread of the disease in the wake of easing lockdown. According to an official statement, Khan said that “lockdown is being eased in a phased manner according to the situation and to keep a balance between business and health needs”.
Public transport remains shut, but factories and offices have been allowed to resume operations. Restrictions on mosque attendance had already been lifted. Khan, however, asked people to take precautions so that the virus doesn’t run out of control.
Meanwhile, the scientists and doctors criticised the government’s handling of the virus who fear the outbreak will gather pace among a population of more than 200 million and overwhelm the country’s struggling health system. “It will definitely lead to an increase in the number of cases, the number of critical cases,” the secretary of Pakistan’s Young Doctors’ Association, Salman Kazmi, said. “We are concerned about pressure that will come on the hospitals.”
Planning Minister Asad Umar said that initially small markets and shops would be allowed to open, although big malls and other spaces which attract large crowds would remain closed for now. A decision to reopen intercity transport and railways will be taken later, while schools will stay closed until July 15, Umar said.
Khan said the restrictions could be restored if the outbreak worsens, something his critics expect to happen due to what they describe as a confused policy response to the crisis and capitulation to Islamist clerics.