In his latest national address on pandemic situation in the country, PM Imran Khan congratulated the nation over the fact that the virus numbers in Pakistan were still far behind than those projected earlier thanks to timely measures.
He said that the govt moved early when there were only a handful of virus patients in the country. “Our previous projections said that the country’s virus tally would reach 50,000 by April 25,” he said. “Thankfully, those projections have been pushed to mid-May and our estimate for April 25 is a total of 12,000 to 15,000 virus cases,” he added.
But, the PM warned that the last two weeks of May could be really tough where the country is projected to see a sharp spike of cases. He added that the numbers could put a strain on hospitals and the govt was doing its best to ramp up healthcare facilities to tackle that rise.
He reiterated that the financial woes of the poor, worsened by the virus lockdown, were more worrisome than the disease itself. “We are no position, financially or administratively, to facilitate our people like the western countries are,” he said. That’s the reason why we decided to partially lift restrictions so the poor can find work and sustain life, he added.
“We must not replicate western models”
Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar said that Pakistan’s population and financial dynamics were very different from those of western countries, so we must not apply their models to Pakistan, especially in this time of crisis.
The reason behind allowing some industries to resume operations was to enable the poor to find work again. “But, the situation would be very different now than it was before and those leaving the house in search of work must take extreme precaution so as not to contribute to the pandemic’s rise,” he said.
Asad also informed that the Covid-19 testing capacity in Pakistan was now three to four times higher and that the country was now aiming to achieve 25,000 tests daily by month’s end. He also said that the current system, where there’s partial lockdown with businesses resuming operations, would be taken forward as the future strategy in the fight against pandemic as it was bearing fruit.
Economic program for small businesses
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar said that an economic program for small-scale businesses, which run in millions, was in the works and would soon be announced.
He said that the program would not target the documented economy only, but also address micro businesses that are a part of the extensive undocumented economy. Such businesses would be provided assistance through easing of electricity bills and soft loans, he informed.
He said the govt would also bring forth an economic plan for those who have lost their jobs during the lockdown. Talking of ensuring seamless supplies of food items in Ramzan, he informed that Utility Stores were already stocked up 10 per cent more than they were during the previous Ramzan to ensure there’s no dearth of supplies during the holy month.
Repatriation of stranded Pakistanis
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Moeed Yusuf said that the govt was making all efforts to repatriate Pakistanis stranded in different countries.
“We are trying to increase our quarantine and testing facilities so that we can bring stranded Pakistanis back as soon as possible. Our target is to be able to bring back up to 7,500 people every week,” he said.
Yusuf thanked the stranded citizens for their patience and added that some commercial airlines could also be allowed soon to bring back stranded Pakistanis.