COVID-19: Imran Khan says ‘Pakistan can’t afford the nationwide lockdown’

As the confirmed case of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pakistan reaches to 464, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan on Friday said that “The country cannot afford to implement the nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

Speaking with the reporters, Imran Khan said, “Lockdown means a curfew-like situation, which will create unrest in the country and we cannot afford that as this would make poor people more vulnerable.”

“However, the lockdown could be implemented in specified clusters, if needed, and hoped that the masses would self-quarantine and help the government to fight the virus,” he said.

Addressing the reporters, he added, “The coronavirus situation is being monitored daily and experienced in various countries, especially in China, and will be taken into account to combat the crisis. But if in this case, the COVID-19 case rises by four or five percent, then the people may need to be hospitalized, which would put a strain on the available medical resources.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan also requested the people to limit their movement and to stay at home for a period of one or two months and to adopt social distancing as precautionary measures.

Speaking on the financial package to combat the possible economic impact, PM advisor on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said, “The government is working on a joint strategy to bring the stimulus package for the industries affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The survey is being conducted to understand which industries are most hurt and as part of stimulus measures taxes will be reduced on certain products while subsidies will be given on others.”

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to not add Pakistan’s expense on dealing with the coronavirus outbreak as a deficit amount,” he said.

Adding more to the development, Sheikh said, “Asian Development Bank and the World Bank have also agreed to provide loans to Pakistan on flexible terms to deal with the outbreak.”

Speaking on the isolation wards, Muhammad Afzal, Chief Lieutenant General, National Disaster Management Authority, said, “The isolation wards are being set up at every big hospital, and over 12 million face masks have been acquired in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi.”

“The government has already ordered 800 ventilators from China and the number could be increased to 6,000 if needed,” he said.