Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday made the announcement of further easing of lockdown measures across the country, even as he appealed the nation to adopt standard operating procedures (SOPs) and other precautionary measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
On Monday Pakistan reported 3,200 new COVID-19 cases taking the nationwide positive cases to 74,320.
While addressing a televised news conference after chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) in Islamabad PM said that the “The number of cases and fatalities will increase now… it is up to you people to take preventive measures and ensure standard operating procedures to reduce the burden on the healthcare system”.
“We imposed the lockdown when 26 coronavirus cases were detected in the country,” he said.
“I was very clear-minded from the very first day since the virus outbreak that the situation of Pakistan is very different from China and Europe and hence strict lockdown cannot be imposed here,” he maintained.
“I as a prime minister, was looking through these two perspectives that we had to stop the spread of the virus while considering the needs of the marginalised segment of the society.
“This coronavirus is not going anywhere and we will have to live with it while striking a balance between poverty and lockdown.”
“The reality of our country is that there are 25 million labourers whose families will starve if they don’t work. So I, personally, have always believed that a lockdown was going to affect these workers.
“When we impose and enforce lockdowns, people starve. Those who live in DHA don’t care about these things,” the premier stated.
Prime Minister Imran said that the lockdown had caused “massive suffering” for people who relied on daily wages to feed their families. He cited the example of India as a country that had failed to take care of its needy citizens during the countrywide lockdown.
“Just look at India. They imposed a strict lockdown. And look at the effect of it on their migrant workers. Dozens have died on train tracks. Poverty has become rampant there. And the virus is still spreading,” he said.
“We are planning to open the tourism sector but high-risk sectors will continue to remain closed,” he said.
“There are areas in our country [GB and KP] that can only be toured during the summer months. If we continue to impose lockdowns in those areas, the local people who rely on income from tourism to survive will starve,” Khan argued.
PM also announced that all the Pakistani nationals stranded abroad will be repatriated to the country.
“I want to talk about overseas Pakistanis. I’m worried about our labourers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. They send valuable remittances to us.
“We have decided that we will bring all of them back. This is good news for them and their families,” Khan said.