People eat food at a roadside restaurant in Karachi on Thursday. AFP
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan says the government has decided not to go for a complete lockdown amid the second wave of coronavirus pandemic but warned that it would not allow the opposition to hold public gatherings and risk people’s lives.
He told reporters that the government was concerned over coronavirus cases surge, pointing out that more than 50 people lost their lives during the last 24 hours because of the disease.
He said the government had decided not to impose a complete lockdown and shut factories and businesses in order to protect the poor population and the economy from the severe consequences. However, he added, non-essential sectors and public gatherings would be suspended to rein in the pandemic.
Because of the rising COVID-19 cases, Imran said, that pressure was increasing on public health facilities. He said that the government was concerned about the virus threat to doctors, nurses and other health workers, particularly in the urban centres.
In just two weeks, the premier said, coronavirus fatalities surged from eight or nine to 50. Because of the rising cases, he added, the government has called off its own public gathering and important events until the pandemic threat was reined in.
“But the opposition is trying to risk people’s lives,” he said, referring to the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) anti-government rallies. “How so many gatherings they hold they will not get any NRO (amnesty),” he said.
Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal and Fazl-Ur Rahman attend an anti-government rally in Peshawar. AFP
“Even the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has also ruled against the public gatherings just because of the coronavirus risk,” Imran said, appealing to the nation to keep observing coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs).
About the first wave, the prime minister noted that there were fewer deaths in Pakistan compared with the neighbouring countries like India. Also, he added that the national economy was back on track within minimum possible time.
“The Pakistani economy is progressing at a better rate in the region with increased exports, well performing industries and appreciating currency,” he said, adding: “But I fear our hospitals will come under pressure and the economy will suffer too, if we did not adhere to the precautions.”
A health official collects a swab sample from a man to test for the COVID-19 in Islamabad. AFP
The prime minister advised factory owners, shopkeepers and others to ensure strict observance of the SOPs, particularly the wearing of face masks, which, he said, was the easiest tool to contain the virus.
He also urged the Ulema and other opinion makers to take responsibility for saving the nation from the deadly disease by impressing upon the people to follow precautions.
Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the ban, fearing hospitals will be overwhelmed as they were in June if people do not act responsibly.
Addressing the media, Prime Minister Imran Khan said: "We have decided that we will not close down businesses and industries. In case of the rise in coronavirus cases, we will close only those things, which do not damage the industries.
Dr Sultan said a few weeks ago, 400-500 cases were being reported across Pakistan on a daily basis. The tally, he said, had shot up to 700-750 cases of the infection per day.
The FAHR on Wednesday announced the launch of smart screens, signboards and real-time reports on the developments of the epidemiological situation of COVID-19 at the federal government level.
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