Coronavirus outbreak: Will Pakistan extend lockdown?

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government is facing the biggest challenge of the age; should it lift lockdown to stabilize the tattering economy or extend it to combat Coronavirus outbreak? WHO has already warned countries not to lift the lockdown.

lockdown

Whether Pakistan should extend lockdown to combat Coronavirus outbreak or not?  Experts, political commentators and economists are quietly mulling over the question and waiting for the government’s response.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Monday said that country-wide lockdown should be extended for two more weeks in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.  Addressing a conference in Karachi along with Sindh ministers, Murad Ali Shah said that lockdown across the country should be extended for two more weeks as there are reports that coronavirus cases will increase in Pakistan.

“Coronavirus outbreak is a global issue and it has gripped the entire world, we need to realize that the COVID-19 has nothing to do with just one province. We cannot make decisions in isolation, the pandemic is affecting everybody,” he added.

Speaking about the number of cases in the province, Shah said that Sindh had recorded one more death to take the provincial tally to 31. He said that 41 new cases of coronavirus surfaced in the province, while 30 patients have recovered during the past 24 hours. CM Murad Ali Shah said that 569 new tests were conducted today and 41 of them turned to be positive.

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He also said, “so far, 13,850 tests have been conducted for the COVID-19 and 1452 of them turned to be positive.” The chief minister informed that 419 of the diagnosed patients recovered and discharged from the hospitals.

Lifting lockdown can spark a “deadly resurgence”, WHO

Importantly, lifting coronavirus lockdown measures too early could spark a “deadly resurgence” in infections, the World Health Organization chief has warned. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said countries should be cautious about easing restrictions, even as some struggle with the economic impact.

Europe’s worst-hit countries, Spain and Italy, are both relaxing some measures, while their lockdowns continue. Globally there are 1.8 million cases of coronavirus and more than 100,000 deaths.

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Speaking at a virtual news conference in Geneva, Dr Tedros said there had been a “welcome slowing” of the epidemics in some European countries. He said the WHO was working with governments to form strategies for easing restrictions, but that this should not be done too soon. “Lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence,” he added.

National Coordination Committee (NCC) will meet with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair in Islamabad today (Monday) to review the steps taken for the control of coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Pakistan to decide today

The NCC meeting will discuss ways and means to effectively deal with coronavirus pandemic. All the chief ministers, top civil and military leaders, federal ministers and NDMA chairman will attend the NCC meeting.

The meeting will decide on extending lockdown across the country, while it will also discuss the strategy to ensure continuity of the industrial and economic activities and future planning.

It is pertinent to mention here that on April 01, the NCC decided to extend lockdown till April 14 to curb the spread of COVID-19 to cope with the impact of the pandemic.

Last week, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said that any decision on lockdown will be made on April 13 in the meeting of National Coordination Committee (NCC).

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Talking during private TV channel, Asad Umar said that the meeting to be headed by the prime minister and attended by chief ministers would decide the strategy to be implemented from April 15.

Experts believe that the government in Pakistan should ease the lockdown for the industrial sector so that economy does not come to halt. But it, they suggest, must ensure that the COVID-19 remains under control otherwise Pakistan’s already weak health system shall immediately collapse.

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