Think globally, act locally to defeat coronavirus: PM's aide

Asad Umar says government’s decisions on easing restrictions based on ground facts


​ Our Correspondent April 15, 2020
Minister says govt’s decisions on easing restrictions based on ground facts. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar on Wednesday said the federal government was making decisions on Covid-19 restrictions taking ground realities into consideration and highlighted the approach of “thinking globally and acting locally” to deal with the crisis as the countrywide tally of coronavirus cases crossed 6,200.

Addressing the media after a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19 in Islamabad, the minister stressed the need for striking a balance between controlling the spread of the virus and ensuring that the poor did not go hungry, justifying the government’s move to allow “low-risk” industries to operate amid the lockdown imposed to stem the spread of the disease.

“People like me can never understand what they [lower-income people] are going through,” he added.

Umar said the government had to make decision for the entire population and not just a few thousand. “If you ask me to make a decision for Germany, I would come to a different conclusion. Our ground realities are much different,” he explained.

The minister noted that the situation was much better in Pakistan than it was in several developed countries. “You have to think globally and act locally.”

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Umar further said the coronavirus situation might be different in Karachi than that in Nawabshah. “The facts on the ground can be different in different parts of the country.”

“Once we’re done with coronavirus [crisis], we will have plenty of time to point out each other’s mistakes.”

The minister noted that if someone was pushing for restrictions to be relaxed so that the lower income people could earn their livelihood, it did not mean that they wanted them to die of the disease. Similarly, he added, those who wanted a complete lockdown did not want the poor to die of hunger as well. "This is a difficult situation.”

The minister said Rs35 billion had been distributed among 2.861 million deserving people under the Ehsaas Emergency Programme.

Speaking on the occasion, State Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza again warned against not taking precautionary measures seriously because of the lower Covid-19 fatality rate in comparison with the rest of the world.

Special Assistant to the PM on National Security Moeed Yusuf said domestic flights would continue to remain suspended. Only flights between the Islamabad airport and Gilgit and Skardu would carry on as permitted earlier, he added.

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The PM’s aide also said the government was not bringing all Pakistanis stranded abroad all at once because of the limited number of testing kits.

“Our ability to test people in the country would be affected if all citizens arriving from other countries are tested.”

Yusuf further said all Pakistanis arriving from other countries would be quarantined. “The citizens who want to stay in hotels [during the quarantine period] will have to bear their own expenditure.”

The SAPM said the Pakistanis stranded in India would be brought back through Wagah Border on Thursday.

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