Planning minister cautions against complacency as he tells media NCOC expects nationwide confirmed cases to be 225,000 or less by end-June
Downgrading earlier estimates that Pakistan could see more than 300,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus by end of June, Planning Minister Asad Umar on Friday said that a recent drop in new infections had led the National Command and Control Center (NCOC) to issue a new estimate of 225,000 or less.
Addressing a press conference alongside Information Minister Shibli Faraz, Umar claimed that the reduction in the projected figures “proves that if we all do the right thing and everyone performs their duty on an individual level while the government does its job on a communal level, a significant success in curbing the spread can be seen.”
He claimed that in the past two weeks, Pakistan’s citizens had largely realized their responsibility to adopt preventative measures and this was increasingly visible in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 dropping nationwide. “Not everyone realized [their responsibility] and as a result, the government had to take some administrative measures,” he said, referring to the ongoing “smart lockdowns” in viral hotspots of the country.
According to Umar, the drop in infections can be attributed to a series of measures introduced by the NCOC in the past month. He said that the forum had issued a guideline making it mandatory to wear masks in public places on May 30. A week later, on June 4, it had issued directives to provinces to start strictly implementing standard operating procedures (SOPs) provided by the government. On June 14, continued Umar, the NCOC had advised provinces to expand “smart lockdown” in viral hotspots where clusters of cases had been detected.
Umar said the government policies, coupled with citizens adopting precautionary measures, had resulted in the country curbing the spread of the virus. However, he warned, this did not mean the country was out of danger, just that the situation has improved.
“This is just a reminder that if we take the right measures, God will protect us and if we don’t, the situation can worsen,” he said, adding that the government would issue new estimates for confirmed cases till the end of July within a week.
According to the planning minister, a recent boost in recoveries had also eased pressure on hospitals in major cities. “The situation does not seem to be getting to a position where our health system would collapse,” he said, citing the new estimates once more.
Umar urged the public to continue to follow SOPs, saying this was the only way to ensure both lives and livelihoods could be protected. He said this would also reduce the pressure on healthcare workers, adding that they were on the front-lines risking their own health for the protection of the nation.
Pakistan’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday climbed to 195,745. Nationwide, 2,775 new infections were reported against 2,861 recoveries, leaving 107,615 active cases of the deadly disease. Thus far, there have been 3,962 deaths due to coronavirus in the country.