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Pakistan coronavirus cases surge past 25,000, PM Announces to Ease Lockdown

Pakistan coronavirus cases surge past 25,000, PM Announces to Ease Lockdown

Coronavirus cases in Pakistan surged past 25,000 on Friday, just hours before the government was scheduled to lift lockdown measures, with the country recording some of the highest daily increases in new infections in the world.

Officials reported 1,764 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours on Friday, bringing the total to 25,837. Deaths increased by 30 to 594.

Meantime, 1,066 patients also recovered from the virus the same day, bringing the total amount of recoveries in the country to 7,530.

Out of confirmed cases, 9,093 were reported in Sindh, 10,033 in Punjab, 3,956 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 1,725 in Balochistan, 558 in Islamabad, 394 in Gilgit-Baltistan, and 78 in Azad Kashmir.

Government Tally of COVID-19, as of May 8, 2020. Source: covid.gov.pk
Government Tally of COVID-19, as of May 8, 2020. Source: covid.gov.pk

Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Thursday, has announced plans to start lifting Pakistan’s inadequately enforced lockdown from Saturday, amid worries for the country’s economy as it drops into recession.

Speaking after a conference of the National Coordination Committee (NCC), which is the apex coronavirus decision-making authority and includes high-level civil and military leaders, including the provincial chief officials, PM Imran stated the country would be opened “in a phased method from Saturday, May 9”.

“We’re deciding that we are finishing this lockdown now,” Khan spoke in a televised address on Thursday. “We know that we’re doing it at a point when our trajectory is moving up … but it is not edging up as we were anticipating.”

Addressing journalists after chairing a high-level meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan stated the lockdown has severely affected laborers, small businessmen, and ordinary people.

Workers from the Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Balochistan stand inside a COVID-19 quarantine camp for people returning from Iran via the border town of Taftan, on the outskirts of Quetta, Pakistan, Source: AFP

Poverty-stricken Pakistanis cannot endure under lockdown any longer, Khan stated. “Since we commenced this lockdown, we had this concern that these people who are daily wagers, who feed their kids on everyday earnings, what will happen to them?” he questioned.

He told the shutdown would be lifted in phases and warned people that the virus could get out of control if they didn’t take precautions.

“The masses now must follow the laws; otherwise, we will be compelled to shift the decision. I was in approval of allowing public transportation, but the provinces did not consent to it. It has consequently been decided that the provinces will execute their own standard operating procedures (SOPs) and share [them] with the capital.”

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A police officer waves a baton as he is trying to control the traffic, after Pakistan announced two weeks extension of a country-wide lockdown but lift some curbs, following the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Karachi, Pakistan April 15, 2020. Image Source: REUTERS

“We have decided to open the small markets, shops and allied industries of building sector across the nation from Saturday,” Khan stated in an announcement broadcasted on state-run Pakistan Television after chairing a high-level conference.

Khan asked the public to follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to stop the spread of coronavirus. “If we notice that people are breaking SOPs and it induces a rise in new cases in the country, then the government will repeatedly go for a lockdown,” Khan warned.

The government’s handling of the virus has been heavily criticized by scientists and doctors who fear the outbreak will pick pace among a population of more than 200 million and destroy the country’s struggling health system.

Planning Minister Asad Umar said that initially small markets and shops would be permitted to open until 5 p.m., although big malls and other places that attract large masses would remain closed for now. A decision to reopen intercity transport and railways will be considered later, while institutions will stay closed until July 15, Umar stated.

A woman scans her thumb for identification to receive cash under the governmental Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme for families in need, during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown, Karachi, Pakistan, April 11, 2020. Image source: AP

Fears for the economy are declared to be the leading cause of loosening the lockdown. The IMF and the World Bank have projected a harsh economic outlook for Pakistan as it directs toward a significant recession.

“Our tax revenue declined by 35% while exportation also overturned due to the lockdown in the country,” PM described.

Last month, Khan announced the reopening of “low-risk” industries, including construction, farming, e-commerce, paper and packaging, and others to maintain the business activities to stem a deepening economic meltdown affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Tags : Asad Umarbusinesscoronavirus diseaseCOVID-19covid19EconomyGlobal PandemicImran Khanlockdownpakistan

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