Pakistan’s prime minister urges citizens to adopt SOPs, laments common man not taking virus ‘seriously’
The Government of Pakistan expects the country’s confirmed coronavirus cases to peak by the end of July (six weeks away) or August (two months away), Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday.
“Our cases are expected to peak by the end of July or in August, and then transmission will reduce,” he said in a nationally televised press statement. “We already know that the virus will spread, the trend that our experts have observed is that it spreads, then peaks and then the curve flattens. And the purpose behind flattening the curve is to reduce pressure on hospitals,” he said.
“So, today, I appeal to you, not for me, for you: Please take precautions for your loved ones, for the elderly and for those who have [other preexisting ailments],” he said. “If we follow standard operating procedures and take precautionary measures, we can manage the pandemic,” he claimed.
The prime minister also referred to Brazil, which has recently witnessed a dramatic surge in cases and deaths after authorities refused to implement lockdowns—similar to Pakistan—and Prime Minister Bolsonaro blamed the public for not adopting SOPs to curb the spread of the virus—also like Pakistan.
“Today, a country like Brazil is seeing 1,500 deaths/day, while America is seeing 2,000 deaths/day,” he said. “This is because the virus spread unchecked in those countries, and God has protected us thus far,” he claimed.
During his statement, Khan lamented that a majority of citizens were not adopted the standard operating procedures (SOPs) introduced by the government, because they considered the coronavirus a “flu”—something that wasn’t worth serious consideration. The prime minister—and his allied ministers—have repeatedly stated that COVID-19 is “just a flu” that only impacts the elderly or those with underlying conditions. In his very first speech on the coronavirus pandemic in March, the prime minister specifically urged citizens to not worry about the virus because it was “just a flu.”
“If we continue to ignore SOPs, then we are putting the lives of the vulnerable in danger,” said the prime minister, again making it clear that in his view the blame for infection lies on the individual and not the government’s own response and failure to apprise the public about the threat posed by the virus.
It was the same government that, less than a month ago, backed reopening all major markets and shopping malls ahead of Eidul Fitr, as “people want to shop and celebrate the festival.”
“Please wear masks, this is very important,” continued the prime minister. “The world has realized that masks can prevent the spread by up to 50 percent. Secondly, when you venture into public places, follow the guidelines that have been issued by the government,” he added.
Khan said the entire world was reaching a point where it understood that lockdowns were not a solution for the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, he failed to mention that most of the countries ending lockdowns have brought their new infections down to less than 50/day before doing so, unlike Pakistan, which has reopened all sectors of the economy while infections are climbing by 4,000/day.
“When a country imposes lockdown restrictions, the spread of the virus is slowed down,” he said. “But we must also realize that Pakistan is a poor country and that we had no choice but to reopen the country. The entire world has understood that lockdowns aren’t a solution,” he said. “The United States, which now has the highest number of cases and deaths, has reopened their country […] they decided to reopen their country with SOPs,” he claimed, while ignoring that the states that have reopened have only done so after bringing new infections down to levels far less than Pakistan’s current rate.
The prime minister concluded his address by saying that only precautionary measures can help to defeat the coronavirus.
Pakistan on Monday reported it had reached 103,671 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 2,067 deaths and 34,355 recoveries. There are currently 67,249 active cases of the virus in the country.