Pakistan’s minister for science and technology says the country has started producing locally designed ventilators, as authorities reported 83 more deaths from the coronavirus.
In a tweet, Fawad Chaudhry said the first locally made ventilators would be delivered to the national disaster management agency soon. The announcement comes days after Pakistan said it was racing against time to arrange for 1,500 more ventilators as part of a contingency plan.
Currently, 1,503 ventilators are available at government hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
Hospitals in major cities have already begun to report acute critical-care shortages, forcing them to turn away patients.
Pakistan has emerged as one of the countries with the fastest rate of coronavirus infections in recent weeks, according to the World Health Organization.
The country reported its first coronavirus case on February 26 and is now among the top 15 most-affected countries.
On Sunday it reported 4,072 new cases, taking the total to date to 202,955 with 4,118 deaths. More than 92,000, or 45 percent, of people infected have recovered whereas 2,805 are in critical condition at hospitals.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has opposed putting in place a far-reaching lockdown to battle the virus from the beginning, arguing that the country’s economy could not afford it.
More than 100,000 new cases were reported during the last 20 days whereas government projections suggest the number may go up to 225,000 by June 30.
Officials say Pakistan is still at least a month away from the projected peak.
Violations of lockdown guidelines prompted authorities to seal markets, shopping malls and residential areas in several parts of the country.
Virus hotspots in 20 major cities have been under a “smart lockdown” since June 14.