PM, aides reiterate ‘corona situation not bad’ in Pakistan Urges people to maintain social distancing and follow preventive measures; Umar says, situation not out of control


Staff Reporter


Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that the death rate in the country from the coronavirus was “lower than feared”.
Addressing a news briefing along with his aides in Islamabad, the premier added that he had “thought that our intensive care units (ICUs) would be filled by now but that is not the case”.
Echoing his words, the Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar assured that the country’s coronavirus situation is “not out of control”.
He added that Pakistan’s trend was different from European countries so the country was doing its own modelling. “It is true that we have a big number of cases and deaths. The number of deaths will increase in the coming days but our situation is not as bad as other countries,” he said.
He added that easing of the lockdown after May 9 depended on whether people were following the restrictions and social distancing measures. “I urge you all to cooperate with the government in following preventive measures even more stringently than before.
Dr Faisal Sultan, the prime minister’s focal person on coronavirus also assured the nation that the situation was “not as bad as in Europe or the United States”. He added that the government analysed global and local coronavirus trends before taking decisions.
Comparing Pakistan’s situation to neighbouring Iran which has been badly affected by the virus, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said that Pakistan was “comparatively better off”.
Mirza said the government was “worried about medical workers” and would soon launch a programme for protection of medical staff working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
The SAPM said that the country was now producing its own personal protective equipment (PPE) but it had been observed that PPE was “not being used rationally” in some places. “We will train medics on the proper use of PPE.”
He added that the government would also provide psychological support to those working on the front lines.
The prime minister said that the government will contribute Rs4 for every Rs1 that people donate to the premier’s corona relief fund.
He added that the fund would be used to help those who have lost their jobs because of the lockdowns enforced to contain the spread of the virus.
Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said that the government would merge the relief fund with the Ehsaas programme to help labourers and daily-wagers who have been affected by the lockdowns.
While detailing plans to help small businesses during the coronavirus, Azhar said that their utility bills for three months