Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Wednesday said the “restrictions” imposed as precautionary measures amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country will continue for two weeks more — April 1 to 14.
The decision to extend the period of the restrictions was taken in a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC).
“The meetings of the NCC will be held regularly before 14 April to review the situation,” Umar said, while addressing a press conference alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning Moeed Yusuf.
“The industries manufacturing basic necessities — food, medicine, and power etc. — will operate as they are crucial at this time,” he said, adding: “These restrictions will bear fruit only if basic necessities are being provided to the people […] The federal and provincial governments are on same page in this regard.”
“Goods transport will continue as all members present in the meeting had agreed on cooperating in this regard,” he noted.
“On April 4, the first flight will arrive in Islamabad via Pakistan International Airline. Passengers will be tested and they will be kept in quarantine facility till the results are received,” he said, referring to the government’s aim to begin resuming flight operations.
If they test negative, then we will ask them to self-quarantine and take necessary precautionary measures, the minister said.
“On April 5, we will review this measure of bringing people in from abroad, if it is successful then flights will resume in different airports of the country […] domestic flights will remain suspended.”
“The restrictions imposed have limited the spread of the coronavirus. If they had not been imposed more cases would have emerged,” said Umar.
Dr Mirza urges self-discipline
“While we have extended the restrictions till April 14, we have to remember to maintain social distancing. The people should also observe self-quarantine,” said Dr Mirza, as he took over the press briefing.
“If we make the restrictions more stern then it will yield better results,” he explain, adding: “Several offices are still using biometric for attendance. We strictly advise them against it.”
Globally, over 800,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus with more than 42,000 deaths, while 21% have recovered.
Speaking of the situation in Pakistan, Dr Mirza said: “The total number of suspected cases are 17,331 out of which an increase of 1,436 was recorded in the past 24 hours. The surge is high; the average increase per day is 12% .”
“Currently, there are a total of 2,049 cases in Pakistan, with an increase of 178 in the past 24 hours,” he said.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir have six cases, Balochistan 158, Gilgit-Baltistan 184, Islamabad 54, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 253, Punjab 708, while 67 in Sindh, he informed the media.
“Total number of people who recovered is 82, while 10 are in critical position,” he said.
There are over 8,800 people in quarantine and more than 5,000 have been tested out of which 19% have tested positive, he added