Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that the Coronavirus-monitoring authorities have observed infections in Pakistan quadrupling over the past 10 days. The PM was sounding the alarm and urging the nation to follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Addressing the nation following a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on the Covid-19 coronavirus, the premier announced a ban on rallies and gatherings — especially ahead of the campaigns during the Gilgit Baltistan Election 2020 — but emphasised that businesses and schools would not be closed.
“We reviewed the rising cases of the Covid-19 and the second wave — which is being experienced in the entire world, especially Europe and America, where cases are rising rapidly and even more than there were before,” PM Imran Khan said.
The PM warned against gatherings and crowds of more than 300 people, saying outdoor activities, including restaurants and weddings were fine, but said testing in schools was underway and a decision on the extension of winter holidays would be made after a week.
“We were observing how many cases were there in the provinces. So, first off, I wish to tell you that God was especially benevolent towards us. We are a very lucky nation — see our neighbours Iran and India — so God was especially kind to Pakistan, we were saved from the havoc the coronavirus wreaked in the rest of the world and in our neighbouring countries.
“We are thankful to God that our country was saved from the coronavirus deaths, and secondly, we also saved our economy from destruction, as compared to what’s happening in the other nations.
He lamented that Pakistan’s service sector sustained a lot of damage. “For example, tourism, marriage halls, and restaurants — this is quite a large sector and it was hit significantly when we shut down our economy,” he said.
“Despite that, Pakistan performed way better during the first wave,” he noted. “However, it is with sadness that I say this today that our cases have quadrupled over the past 10 days and deaths have shot up to 25 on average as compared to five or six a day earlier.
The prime minister said his government feared that not following the SOPs would lead to the same pressure building on the hospitals as was seen back in June and how medical facilities in major cities were full given “the speed at which patients are being admitted” at present.
“God forbid, if our situation worsens further! We see that it spread even faster than before in the rest of the world,” he said.
PM Imran Khan noted how some said the coronavirus has mutated and was spreading faster. “I request my nation that this is the time to take precautions. If we do that, we will be able to stop and slow it down, the same way all of us — everyone in the nation — took precautions before and we were saved.
“We have to do the
same again because that time has come. Face masks is the easiest precaution,” the premier said, citing examples from the rest of the world where very few cases spread and the rate of the pandemic’s spread slowed down considerably.
“We just need to slow it down. It will spread nonetheless but if we slow down its speed, then our hospitals will not come under pressure because our main goal is that we do not want our hospitals to be filled up or our doctors and nurses to face the pressure as it was in June.
Earlier, Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the Policy Committee overseeing the Prime Minister’s Covid Relief Fund, to review fund utilization details. The fund was established in March 2020 to raise funds for Covid-19 affectees.
The fund received generous donations from within Pakistan and overseas. Rs. 4.8 billion accumulated in the fund of which Rs.1.08 billion was donated by international donors and Rs. 3.8 billion was contributed domestically.
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister had publicly announced two policies with respect to this fund, committing that these funds would be disbursed through Ehsaas Emergency Cash to assist Covid-19 job loss affectees. Secondly, a “matching funds policy” was announced which stipulated that for every rupee donated into the fund, Rs. 4 would be matched by the Government. To fulfill this promise, Rs. 19.55 billion have been matched by the Government—in total Rs. 24.43 billion. This amount has supported 2 million families, each of which received Rs. 12,000 each as Ehsaas Emergency cash through this funding stream (out of the total of 15 million who received Ehsaas Emergency cash).