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Lockdowns Eased to Help Suffering Masses: Imran Khan

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Pakistan’s prime minister says economic activities must resume but preventative measures must also continue

Chairing a meeting devoted to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the government had decided to gradually ease nationwide lockdowns due to Pakistan’s struggling economy, and to ease the problems being faced by the masses.

“There is a growing realization internationally that lockdowns are a temporary measure to curb the spread of coronavirus,” Khan told the meeting of senior lawmakers. “However, [easing them] does not mean we should neglect preventative measures,” he said, adding that a balance should be maintained between protection and economic activities.

Commenting on reports that people were avoiding getting tested for COVID-19 due to the social stigma attached to the disease, the prime minister said such reservations should be removed. He said citizens should be encouraged to seek tests of their own initiative if they have any symptoms of the disease.

Khan also reiterated that people should be informed of self-quarantine guidelines so those with mild symptoms could socially distance at home and now burden the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

The meeting was also briefed on the current situation regarding the spread of coronavirus in Pakistan. It reviewed the total number of confirmed cases, as well as the health facilities available for the affected. It also discussed the provision of protective materials, and other facilities, for doctors and medical staff.

Discussing the existing stock of ventilators in the country, the prime minister ordered the officials concerned to formulate a comprehensive policy for easy availability and utilization of ventilators so there would be no shortage in the even of an emergency.

Federal ministers Hammad Azhar, Asad Umar and Khusro Bakhtiar; advisers to the P.M. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Abdul Razak Dawood; special assistants to the P.M. Asim Saleem Bajwa, Dr. Zafar Mirza and Moeed Yusuf, and other senior officers attended the meeting in addition to Khan.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan climbed to 32,081 on Tuesday, with 706 deaths and 8,555 recoveries. There are currently 22,820 active cases of the novel coronavirus nationwide.

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