Pakistan can’t afford another lockdown: Imran

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We can defeat Covid-19 by strictly following SOPs

Staff Reporter

Islamabad

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday urged the volunteer Corona Relief Tiger Force to spread awareness about coronavirus among people as the country “cannot afford [to impose] another lockdown”.
“This country cannot undergo another lockdown. That’s why we need you to spread awareness,” the premier said, addressing members of the force in a special televised briefing.
The premier’s address came as the country’s tally of infections shot past 90,000 and deaths surged to more than 1,800.
The premier said that owing to the epidemic, the country had already experienced a loss of approximately Rs800bn in revenue and hinted at an austere budget for the coming year where expenses “will have to be drastically reduced”.
Acknowledging the enthusiasm displayed by those who have volunteered this far, he said the force will now be provided identification cards so they can go to hotspots and distribute food if those areas are closed off.
The premier said the force’s help will also be sought to combat the locust attacks.
PM Imran said that another challenge the youth force’s assistance will be required for is the “Clean and Green Pakistan” initiative under which their full participation in tree plantation will be sought.
He said that not only will plantation occur in forest areas where tree cover has been depleted, but is sorely needed in city areas.
The Tiger Force will also “keep an eye on Utility Stores” where they will report price hikes and also inform administration about hoarding of items.
“The real purpose you have is to keep our people protected and to help them. We will keep briefing you on further duties.” The premier said that he lauds the work of 175,000 workers — out of the more than 1 million who had registered — “who stepped up and assisted the government” thus far. “We needed a force which can go to the people and tell them how important it is to follow SOPs as we slowly eased the lockdown,” he said.
“We needed them to see to the implementation of SOPs that were conditional to the reopening of the economy.”
He said that it is the responsibility of managers and owners of businesses to implement SOPs and the volunteer force has to ensure the safety protocols are followed. “Everyone does not understand what the coronavirus is and why we need to be cautious.”
PM Imran said that Pakistan was “the only Muslim country to keep mosques open for tarawih prayers in Ramadan” subject to the following of SOPs by worshippers. He thanked the ulema for being particular about this and for “demonstrating caution”.
Speaking of “more than 3,000 mosques” in Sialkot, he said that the relatively small police force would not have been as effective in seeing to the implementation of SOPs and that the Force had proved instrumental in this regard. “They went to mosques and spread awareness,” he said, terming it “a big achievement”.
He said that there had been a hue and cry by opponents to the view that mosques had been kept open. “We did not see an outbreak in Ramadan due to mosques. And now we see mosques are being opened the world over.”
Addressing the Tiger Force members directly, he said that it was important to realise that the country is at a critical juncture where if people understand the importance of following SOPs “we will be saved from the crisis that has befallen many countries”.