'We're walking tightrope', says PM Imran as COVID-19 cases surge past 2,700

Published: April 4, 2020
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Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: PID/FILE

Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: PID/FILE

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the federal government is walking a tightrope having to balance between a lockdown, people dying of hunger and ensuring the economy does not collapse as the nationwide tally of COVID-19 cases surged past 2,700 on Saturday.

In a series of tweets, the premier said that educational institutions, malls, marriage halls and restaurants have been shut, but in order to ensure the economy does not collapse, the agricultural sector and the construction sector will remain open.

“In the subcontinent, with a high rate of poverty, we are faced with the stark choice of having to balance between a lockdown necessary to slow down/prevent the spread of COVID19 & ensuring people don’t die of hunger & our economy doesn’t collapse. So we are walking a tightrope,” he wrote on his official Twitter handle.

Yesterday, police enforced a strict lockdown across the country to prevent people from going to mosques to offer Friday prayer and fuel a rise in coronavirus infection.

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However, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, PM Imran announced a relief package for the construction industry in order to amplify employment opportunities.

“We have locked down educational institutions, Malls, marriage halls, restaurants & other places where public congregates. But, to stop the devastation of the lockdown we have kept our agri sector open & now we are opening up our construction sector”, he added in another tweet.

The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients has crossed 2,700 with 839 cases in Sindh, 1,072 in Punjab, 175 in Balochistan, 347 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 197 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 75 in Islamabad and 12 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The virus has so far claimed 40 lives in Pakistan, while 130 patients have fully recovered.

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PM Imran’s government has been criticised for not taking decisive measures to curb the spread of coronavirus outbreak.

The country had only tested 68 people out of one million while the situation was even worse in India and Indonesia with 33 and 26 respectively.

On Friday, the World Health Organisation warned that the low testing rates in Pakistan, India and Indonesia risk leaving the authorities blindfolded about the extent of coronavirus transmission in their countries.

“Without testing, it’s like moving blindfolded,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO, said during a briefing.

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