The government is committed to providing all available facilities to the health professionals to effectively deal with coronavirus cases across the country, and to ensure availability of essential food stocks.
This was stated by the Federal Minister of National Food Security and Research, Khusro Bakhtiar, and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza, while addressing a joint press conference along with SAPM on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf, and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairperson Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal, here on Monday.
They expressed condolences to the family of Doctor Osama Riaz who was infected and lost his life, while treating infected patients in Gilgit-Baltistan. Speaking on the occasion, Bakhtiar said that sufficient food stocks were available in the country, advising people to avoid panic buying and refrain from hoarding.
The minister said that sufficient stocks of almost all food commodities were available in the county, so the people should avoid panic buying or purchase edible commodities for hoarding. He said that the prices of edible oil, ghee and pulses would further come down in April and May.
The minister said that currently there was 1.8 million tons of wheat available in the country, whereas stocks of edible oil, ghee, potatoes, onions, pulses, poultry, livestock and diary, and other basic edibles were also sufficient for consumption.
He said as against the consumption of 3.5 million tons of rice, Pakistan was producing around seven million tons of rice. Likewise, Pakistan was producing around 4.4 million tons of potato, adding that around 75,000 tons of edible oil stocks were also available. The minister said that this year the government would procure 8.2 million tons of wheat costing Rs 288 billion.
He said that public-sector entities had decided to double wheat procurement target this year, and procurement drive would start form Sindh from today. The minister said that a committee had also been constituted to monitor the demand and supply condition, and also keep the prime minister updated about the situation. He lauded the Punjab government's efforts for updating its food monitoring system to facilitate people.
The NDMA chairperson, while speaking on the occasion, said that at present, the top priority was the provision of safety gear for doctors and paramedics, who were in direct contact with the coronavirus-infected patients. Afzal said that the government had allocated sufficient funds to the NDMA for intervention and to pool in resources for fighting the pandemic.
He appreciated facilitation by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) enabling the NDMA for transferring money to the Pakistan Embassy in China for procurement in the coming days.
"Ventilators and other personal protection equipment (PPE) are being procured from China and a consignment of 125 ton of PPE, and other medical equipment is due to arrive in Pakistan by the end of this week," stated the NDMA chairperson.
He further informed that 120 ventilators would reach Pakistan by coming weekend, while 10 ventilators had already been delivered by the Chinese to them. The NDMA chairperson also informed that 14 tons of PPE and more ventilators would be sent by the Chinese government.