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Pakistan Can’t Afford Another Lockdown: Imran Khan

by Newsweek Pakistan
P.M. Imran Khan

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P.M. reiterates calls for citizens to adopt preventative measures to curb spread of coronavirus

In line with his repeated assertions since the coronavirus pandemic reached Pakistan’s shores in February, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday once again said the country couldn’t afford to go under lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Chairing a federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad, he said that the focus should be on the public adopting preventative measures and not movement restrictions that would impact the economy. Following a briefing on the recent surge in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19 nationwide, he urged the provincial governments to ensure implementation of the Trace, Test and Quarantine (TTQ) protocol, as well as “smart” lockdowns to curb the pandemic.

“The country cannot afford lockdown again,” the premier stressed and vowed that economic hubs would not be allowed to shutter no matter what.

Earlier, Planning Minister Asad Umar, who also heads the National Command and Control Center coordinating the COVID-19 response, as well as Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan updated the cabinet on the prevailing coronavirus situation. They both also stressed that public adoption of standard operating procedures must be ensured.

Pakistan currently has 337,573 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 6,867 deaths and 316,060 recoveries. The national positivity rate has climbed from around 2 percent to almost 5 percent in the past 2 weeks, raising fears the virus is spreading faster than it can be contained.

Economy to continue

Separately, during a press conference in which he announced a relief package for small- and medium-sized industries, the prime minister vowed that no matter what, industries would not be shut down again.

Urging people to wear masks, he said that if the number of COVID-19 cases rose to a point where stricter movement restrictions were needed, the government would allow businesses to continue their operations with SOPs.

Noting that the second wave of the novel coronavirus was spreading rapidly throughout the world, including Pakistan, he said it would be “ungrateful” if people did not adopt SOPs. “God has been very kind to Pakistan; we have made wise decisions and God has been gracious,” he said.

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