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Govt. Wants Balance Between Curbing COVID-19, Economic Activity: Imran Khan

by Newsweek Pakistan

Pakistan’s prime minister urges senior officials to secure public cooperation on issues of national importance

The Government of Pakistan is striving to maintain a balance between containing the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensuring the continuation of economic activities, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday.

Chairing a meeting to review the measures taken to curb COVID-19, Khan said the government was aware of the problems being faced by traders—shops and markets remain bound by movement restrictions—and was deliberating on measures to resolve these concerns with the cooperation of provincial governments.

The prime minister urged the meeting’s participants to ensure an effective strategy of public cooperation to maintain social distancing, adding that wider public awareness of preventative measures should be encouraged. He said that in sovereign countries, public cooperation was sought by directly involving people on issues of national importance instead of forcing their compliance.

Highlighting the critical role of doctors and paramedical staff in the fight against the novel coronavirus, the prime minister said they were on the front-line and vowed to ensure that their requirements remained a top priority of the government.

Referring to his recent meeting with ulema, Khan said it was heartening that religious scholars had taken the responsibility for implementing a 20-point plan that would allow for social distancing in congregational prayers at mosques. He said the implementation of the agreement was a joint responsibility.

During the meeting, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza gave a comprehensive briefing on the latest situation about the coronavirus. Similarly, Planning Minister Asad Umar briefed the meeting on the National Command and Operation Center’s proposals to make the government’s strategy to curb COVID-19 more effective. He said there was a special focus on the capacity enhancement of hospitals in view of the future situation.

NDMA Chairman Lt. Gen. Muhammad Afzal said material to combat the coronavirus from a third international consignment had been dispatched to 408 hospitals, whereas it would be doubled with the fourth consignment. He also informed the P.M. that Pakistan’s capacity for coronavirus testing would reach 20,000 per day by the end of the month, adding that around 8,000 tests were being carried out daily presently.

The meeting was attended by federal ministers, including Hammad Azhar, Khusro Bakhtiar, Syed Fakhar Imam, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the P.M. on National Security Moeed Yousaf, and other senior officials.

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