Pakistan to ease lockdown, open more businesses amid surging COVID-19 infections

Pakistan will be reopening more businesses after the prime minister Imran Khan said that economy could not handle the impact of a lockdown much longer urging people to follow the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) to contain the spread of the virus.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in a televised address advised the nation on the decision made regarding the lockdown in the country to contain COVID-19 during the National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting held on Monday.

Noting that the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) met every morning and examined everyone, including health experts from Pakistan and around the world.

He also talked about the country’s reaction and the current situation regarding coronavirus. He said, “Since day one when we got to know that coronavirus started spreading in Pakistan, we imposed a lockdown following a national security committee meeting.”

“We observed the conditions in Wuhan and Europe when the virus started spreading and we were seeing how the world was responding. But that time when we had discussion and meeting, I was very clear on the path Pakistan had to take.”

He added, “The situation going on in Pakistan is totally different from what happened in China or Europe”. He said observing that he had earlier informed the nation that 25% of the countries population was below the poverty line which “means that there are about 50 million people in our country that don’t get to eat two full meals per day.”

“ I have done some calculation which shows that there are about 25 million people who are daily wagers meaning they get paid on daily basis and if they don’t earn money for a day there who family doesn’t eat anything, the calculations show that there about 12-15 million of people of this type who need to earn every day to feed their family.”

He said “The virus spreads quick and lockdown won’t cure it, it just slows the spread. The lockdown just helped in decreasing the number of patients and the amount of work done by doctors and other health care professionals.”

“Lockdown is different for everyone. There are people who live places and there are those who live in slums and they both take separate approach when it comes to dealing with the lockdown.”

“There are around 30-35 people in Karachi that live in katchi abadi (slums). How has lockdown affected them? On the other hand, we have wealthy people who have a completely different attitude and those were the people who asked for a lockdown because of the lockdown going on in Europe.”

He added, “On the other hand we have daily hard-working poor people with seven to 10 people living in a room the taxi and rickshaw driver.”

“I don’t want this type of lockdown like the one which was imposed in Pakistan due to the 18th Amendment according to which the provinces have the authority to make their own decisions.”

“I should have never stopped businesses and construction because we had to balance it. Coronavirus is not going away until a vaccine is created and we have to live with it.” He added.

“America where 100,000 people have died and which has provided us with a stimulus of $3,000 billion also decided to lift the lockdown as or their economy would collapse because there is no guarantee this virus will go away if the lockdown keeps going on.” He added.

“We have only given people $8 billion to date. Even if we keep people under a lockdown there is not confirmation that the virus starts spreading again if the lockdown s lifted because the virus is still there.”

“Virus spread. The virus will spread. These deaths, I told you all from the first day they will rise and the virus will spread.”

“If we have to successfully live with the virus, it is the responsibility of the people. If the take precautionary measures, we can tackle the virus and live with it. If we close a specific area, then the businesses of those areas will be affected.” He added.”

The Prime Minister also mentioned “that the government has prepared a negative list of the sectors that will remain shut down but we will keep everything else open. The list of the places will be shared later as a debate is still going on to reopen tourism.”

He said, “tourism will open for various places for three to four months of summer and the tourism industry is not reopened it will negatively affect people as for some is the only source of income.”

He added” We are in no state to extend this lockdown as it has been negatively affecting our economy. Our exports have plummeted and we are afraid that our reimbursement might decrease as well.”
“The government feels for you. Do not think that we do not take your circumstances into account. I have decided to hold a meeting with their representative as well.”
“I want Pakistanis that are overseas especially those who are laborers stranded in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other parts in Europe to know that we planning a way to bring you back.”
He added “Nearly 80-90% cases were imported and we closed off the airspace because of the circumstances. We have decided to bring Pakistanis back. We will test them and those who test positive will be asked to self-isolate themselves in their homes.”
He also said that “Those who have diabetes, high blood pressure, or are elderly have a higher risk from the virus. If we enforce the SOPs, we can save their lives as well. We will be bringing a program by which people will be able to know what hospitals have ventilator available.”
Earlier Geo News reported that the NCC in its meeting decided that they will have a complete lockdown on weekends to control the coronavirus with that they also eased the restriction for Fridays.”

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