In stark contrast to the available evidence and despite rapidly increasing coronavirus cases in the country, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday announced there will be no more lockdowns in Pakistan.
“Unfortunately, the [previous] lockdown has already hit the poor people. We no longer can afford that,” Khan told a new conference in the capital Islamabad after the meeting of the National Coordination Committee — a body that monitors the coronavirus situation in the country.
“Therefore, except for a few sectors, all other sectors will stay open,” Khan said, without specifying the sectors that will remain closed. ” We have to save our people from coronavirus and hunger simultaneously.”
The decision comes in the wake of record cases in Pakistan, with the country well on track to surpass China in the number of cases that have been reported. Experts fear that cases in Pakistan are far more than those reported by official sources due to limited testing capacity and expensive tests.
No more lockdowns in Pakistan as country opens businesses and flights
The development came days after health experts warned of a spike in number of COVID-19 cases across the country following the lifting of two-months nationwide lockdown late May.
“Coronavirus is going nowhere, at least this year. That means we have to live with it following safety guidelines,” Khan said.
The tax collection in Pakistan, the premier said, has reduced 30%, in addition to deceasing foreign and local investment due to the lockdown.
Khan also ordered the aviation authorities to accelerate the process of bringing back thousands of Pakistanis stranded in different countries due to the suspension of international flights, mainly in the Gulf states, due to the pandemic.
Pakistan now has the highest number of deaths (per million people) in the region. Clear spike visible after the lockdown was relaxed before Eid
Even this data is not 100% accurate due to limited testing; not all deaths due to COVID are detected or counted in COVID death count pic.twitter.com/1TJok6kewP
— Umar Saif (@umarsaif) June 1, 2020
Last week, the government lifted a prolonged ban on international flights in order to bring back stranded Pakistanis.
On Monday, an Emirates Airlines flight carrying 370 Pakistanis from the United Arab Emirates arrived in Pakistan.
Coronavirus not disastrous says Pakistan health mogul despite record toll
Earlier, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Dr. Zafar Mirza has said that the prevailing situation of the coronavirus in the country is not disastrous due to the government’s effective measures.
According to media reports, he said the testing capacity of coronavirus patients has been increased and that is why more patients are being reported. Dr. Zafar Mirza said the government is taking on board the provincial governments regarding all the decisions to contain COVID-19.
He said the opposition parties instead of playing politics on the deadly virus should suggest measures to prevent its spread. The Special Assistant urged people to follow the Standard Operating Procedure, maintain social distancing, avoid shaking hands, wear masks and gloves to keep themselves safe from the coronavirus.
No more lockdowns in Pakistan: the consequences entailed
Earlier, upon easing of the lockdown, Pakistan confirmed 46 deaths from novel coronavirus in one day as the nationwide tally of fatalities has jumped to 985 and positive cases surged to 45,898, Dunya News reported. The lockdown easing had caused a heavy surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.
According to the figures by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), 1,932 persons had tested positive for COVID-19 in 24 hours.
Sindh remains the worst-hit province by the pandemic followed by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
With the government now clarifying that there will be no more lockdowns in Pakistan, the densely populated country is set to witness even greater numbers of infected cases and, possibly, deaths due to the virus.
Coronavirus in Pakistan: The situation so far
As of today, the number of people infected by the Novel Coronavirus and suffering from the associated disease COVID-19 in Pakistan has crossed 72,000. There have been 1,500 deaths associated with the disease. A statistic to take heart from is the fact that 26,000 people suffering from COVID-19 have recovered.
The country has recorded 293 deaths in the past four days with over 11,000 new cases.
According to official statistics, the southern Sindh province tops the tally with 28,245 cases, followed by the northeastern Punjab where 26,240 people have so far been infected with the virus.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk