Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed on Sunday announced that Pakistan Railways would resume train services from April 15 if Prime Minister Imran Khan approves the proposal. The announcement appears to be dangerous as coronavirus cases in Pakistan are increasing on a daily basis.
The railway minister made comments after the federal health ministry has told the apex court that coronavirus infections in Pakistan may rise to 50,000 by April 25 – a projection based on the pandemic’s trends in other countries.
The Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination has submitted a report to the Supreme Court five-judge larger bench, which is hearing a petition filed against March 20 order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to release under trial prisoners (UTPs).
Read more: Reforming Pakistan Railways
According to the report, the tally of coronavirus infections may top 50,000 by April 25. Some 2,392 of these infections might be in critical condition; 7,024 in severe condition and 41,482 facing mild infection.
Rasheed also announced that seven railway hospitals will also be dedicated to treating coronavirus patients, including a 50-bed quarantine established inside a train and railway hospital with the capacity of accommodating 450 patients in Rawalpindi.
He said that they started 20 trains before the lockdown, adding that the passengers would have been stranded in Karachi if they had not run 40 trains before the lockdown. “More than 16,500 passengers travelled in trains in the last two days before the lockdown,” the minister said. “Our situation is far better than India where many passengers died due to hunger on railway stations because of lockdown,” he added.
Read more: Pakistan Railways on the right track
It is worth noting that the Pakistan International Airlines decided to partially restore international flights from April 4 from the New Islamabad International Airport. Resultantly, Government of Punjab’s Health Ministry announced that two pilots working for Pakistan’s national carrier, PIA have tested positive for novel coronavirus. According to details, both Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilots were screened after flying special flights to Canada with Pakistani origin Canadian nationals.
The results of the screening came out positive and both pilots were declared infected. The pilots were stuck in Canada for a few days with five others and were unable to fly back to Pakistan amidst the suspension of global airspace due to the global pandemic.
Analysts believe that the minister should be careful while making any announcement as the situation in Pakistan may turn from bad to worse. The situation in America and Europe is already deteriorating as the health system in many developed states has collapsed. Therefore, Pakistan needs to take any step after careful deliberation.