- "We have decided to ease the lockdown partially in a phased manner from Saturday after analyzing the local situation and confirmed cases trend," Khan said.
- Experts say the country's lack of education and lack of discipline are more likely to lead to disregard for guidelines on social distance and precautionary measures.
- A report by the UNDP says Pakistan is among the least-prepared to fight COVID-19.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions in the country after May 9. Khan made the announcement on national media on Wednesday. Medical experts in Pakistan are deeply concerned that government measures could exacerbate the Coronavirus crisis in the country.
“We have decided to ease the lockdown partially in a phased manner from Saturday after analyzing the local situation and confirmed cases trend,” Khan said. “It is now the responsibility of the businessmen and common people to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) otherwise we would be forced to reverse the decision.”
Experts say the country’s lack of education and lack of discipline are more likely to lead to disregard for guidelines on social distance and precautionary measures. However, Khan said he would instruct the Coronavirus Tiger Force, set up by the federal government, to go to people and raise awareness. According to Khan, if the epidemic increases rapidly, it will be bad for everyone.
According to a government announcement, small bazaars will be opened in streets, neighborhoods, and villages from Saturday. The shops will be open from dawn to 5 PM. OPDs will be opened in hospitals where possible. Businesses associated with the construction sector will receive more incentives.
However, Khan said that the federation, in consultation with the provinces, had also decided that business other than basic necessities shops would be closed two days a week, to provide relief to the police and law enforcement personnel. The government also announced that schools and educational institutions would remain closed until July 15.
According to the Prime Minister, he wanted trains, buses, and airplanes to be resumed at this stage. However, the decision has been postponed due to concerns from the provinces. He said that the government wants to repatriate 1,500 Pakistanis stranded abroad, but the provinces also have concerns that the virus not spread in the country.
On the occasion, Dr. Faisal Sultan said that the number of cases and deaths in Pakistan is definitely increasing, but this trend of increase is less than in many other countries. He said that Pakistan has increased its daily testing to 10,000, and at present, the country’s medical system has the capacity to deal with coronavirus. At the same time, he warned that in the country, “the threat exists and may increase in the coming days.” However, according to Dr. Faisal, the key to dealing with it is “in our hands.”
The government in Pakistan has repeatedly claimed that it is ready to deal with the epidemic. Many quarters in the country have rejected the government’s claim, calling a report by the United Nations Development Programme a reflection of the facts. Dr. Abdul Ghaffar Shoro of the Pakistan Medical Association, said:
“I think the UNDP report is absolutely correct. When the pandemic broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan, we told the government at a press conference in December what it should do to deal with the epidemic, but they did not close the borders and did not do so later. The government made arrangements to stop it even though it had a lot of time.”
He also said that the issue is still not being taken seriously, adding that the situation is that doctors in Sindh and other parts of Pakistan are still working without PPAs.
“We still have a lot of applications, in which doctors are asking us for PPAs. We are trying on our own but we are not a state. Medical staff and helpless doctors are working without protection and getting sick from the coronavirus. If this continues, the country will face a major crisis.”