Planning minister warns lives and livelihoods at stake if people continue ignoring SOPs
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday warned that he feared a “second coronavirus spike” could emerge in Pakistan’s urban centers with the approach of winter.
“I fear there might be another spike of coronavirus in cities where the rate of pollution increases in October and November,” he said, adding that cities like Faisalabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Gujranwala were most at risk.
“The cases are rising gradually and we hope that they don’t increase quickly; we are monitoring it,” he said, noting that it takes longer for pollutants to disperse during winter, which can further boost the spread of viral infections.
The prime minister said that the government’s policies to curb the spread of COVID-19 had been praised by the World Health Organization. “Pakistan not only saved its people, but we also saved the economy,” he said.
Lamenting that Pakistan’s major cities used to be clean but were now suffering from pollution, Khan warned that future generations would have to pay the price for this. “This is the time” for the government and people to join hands to save the country’s future and kickstart a plantation drive to curb pollution, he said.
Discussing the government’s reforestation efforts, he said the first step was the ‘10 billion tree tsunami.’ The second, he added, was to clean our cities and generate electricity through solid waste.
The prime minister said the public needed to be aware that the country’s climate was worsening due to pollution and pledged to incentivize deputy commissioners who work hard and penalize those who don’t.
Planning Minister Asad Umar, who also heads the country’s coronavirus response, echoed Khan’s warnings about COVID-19 in a post on Twitter.
“Last week, daily COVID mortality was 12,” he said on Tuesday morning. “This is a 140% increase vs. few weeks back. We are collectively committing a blunder by recklessly ignoring all SOPs [Standard Operating Procedures] and the results have started to show. If we do not change our current path we will lose both lives and livelihoods,” he warned.
The Pakistan Medical Association, over the weekend, also warned that a second wave was in the offing. Doctors and other healthcare professionals told a press conference that they were once again witnessing a surge in patients with symptoms of COVID-19 and urged the public to wear face masks and avoid public spaces to reduce the pandemic’s impact.