Speaking to The Express Tribune, officials said the NCOC’s Covid-19 strategy was devised along four strands: national awareness, disease prevention and containment, healthcare optimisation and buildup, and managing socioeconomic fallout.
“To increase national awareness of Covid-19, we carried out timely risk communication along with issuing guidelines and standard operating procedures to prevent the virus from spreading,” an official said. “We also undertook measures to reduce panic, manage expectations and prevent fake information from proliferating,” he added.
The second strand, disease containment, was broken down further into a ‘disease management improvement’, enhanced testing, TTQ, smart lockdown, SOP compliance and community mobilisation strategies, officials said. Side by side, the country also took measures to manage international travel and borders, along with high-risk events.
“Our daily testing capacity increased from 472 tests in February to over 60,000 tests, and the number of labs increased from four in the same month to 133,” the official revealed. “As many as 2.36 million tests have been conducted so far, and currently we are maintaining an average of 22,000 tests per day,” he said.
“Our lockdown strategy, meanwhile, has been adaptive and we move from general lockdowns to smart lockdowns and now, micro smart lockdowns, to zero down on the disease in the long term,” the official added. “At present, 62 micro lockdowns, which encompass small streets or a multi-storey building, have been imposed in 18 districts.”
Arguably the biggest challenge in terms of disease containment was managing high-risk events such as the easing of the lockdown, Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha and Independence Day.
“We issued comprehensive guidelines for effective management of Eidul Azha to all federating after a deliberate consultation process,” the official said. “The NCOC monitored all pre-Eid activities for SOP compliance,” he added.
To optimise healthcare, the government embarked on a hospital ramp up, procuring critical care and protective equipment, improving resource management, and training and motivating healthcare workers, officials said.
“The federal government has so far added 2,690 oxygenated beds to the national health system,” the official said. “Domestic oxygen manufacturing was ramped up and we also took measures to ensure availability of essential medicines, while promoting indigenous developments that could help fight Covid-19,” he added. “The NCOC looked for ways to strengthen the IT base, and launched initiatives such as Telehealth and Yaran-e-Watan.”
On the socioeconomic front, the government took measures such as announcing a stimulus package and ramping up the Ehsaas programme, officials said. The government encouraged a gradual re-opening of the economy, and passed special anti-hoarding and anti-smuggling ordinances to ensure food and economic security.