The federal government has decided to extend the countrywide lockdown till May 9, announced Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Friday.
Speaking at news conference, the minister said that a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meeting had been held which decided to extend the date of the lockdown.
He said that the NCOC was about to start the implementation of the trace and track system from tomorrow. “Consultations were held with chief secretaries and then health ministers at the NCOC. The prime minister has given approval for the system.”
— Prime Minister's Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) April 24, 2020
Umar said that the apex body of the NCOC will oversee the trace and track system but the provincial governments, information technology institutions, civil and military organisations will be involved in the process as well.
“This is a complete national response formed by the government,” he said, though adding that the provincial governments will be responsible mainly for the implementation of the system.
He announced that throughout the month of Ramazan, loadshedding will not take place during Sehar and Iftar hours.
‘Ramadan will be the decisive month’
The minister said that if people practiced the prescribed safety precautions during the holy month, then it would allow business and other activities to inch towards normalcy.
“However, God forbid, if we demonstrate irresponsibility, then we may have to impose more restrictions after Eid,” he said.
He said that generally, Pakistanis had made a lot of changes to their social life during the past month ever since the lockdown was imposed. “We are trying to predict what this infection’s spread will be through consultations will data scientists and experts,” he said.
The remarks from the federal minister came a day before Pakistan observes its first fast for Ramadan 2020.
Pakistan’s coronavirus cases can rise to 200,000 by mid July sans ‘effective interventions’: WHO
Currently, the number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan have crossed the 11,500 mark on Friday. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom warned on Thursday that if Pakistan did not take sufficient “preventive interventions” then the number of coronavirus cases in the country can surge to 200,000 by mid-July.
“Pakistan’s #COVID19 Response Plan is a joint strategy of the Government of #Pakistan, the @UN and partners. It is aligned with the @GlobalGoalsUN, Pakistan’s National Action Plan and WHO’s global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan,” DrTedros was quoted as saying.
"Without effective interventions there could be an estimated 200K+ cases by mid-July. The impacts on the economy could be devastating, doubling the number of people living in poverty.
We must act in solidarity, with a coherent, coordinated approach"-@DrTedros #COVID19
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) April 23, 2020
PM Imran calls for a ‘smart lockdown’ as coronavirus cases surge
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that the country will have to move towards a “smart lockdown” as a balance had to be struck between keeping people safe and ensuring the coronavirus does not spread too much.
He had cited the example of the United States where more than 40,000 people have died yet the government is considering moving towards reopening shops and businesses. “No one knows for how long this [coronavirus situation] will last,” he had said, adding that the Prime Minister’s Coronavirus Relief Fund will be used to help people who were suffering till their businesses were shut.
“I spoke to Trump. Even he is concerned with the economy collapsing, despite their resources. Everyone agrees it is unsustainable,” he had said.
Speaking about the criticism he had faced due to his decision to refrain from ordering a complete lockdown, the prime minister had said that previous decisions were made keeping in mind the country’s elite.
He had urged critics to go to impoverished areas of the country and in katchi abadis to see for themselves the living conditions of people. “If this [coronavirus] spreads in slums, it will not stay there. It will spread to defence [and other posh areas],” he said.