ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Sunday said that the government is not considering a new lockdown to curb coronavirus infections, despite a steady rise in new cases over the past month.
Speaking on a television programme, Asad, who also heads the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), said: “A full lockdown is not the solution.”
“We attempted to explain this to the public during the first wave [of the coronavirus] but achieved little success. You cannot shut down an entire country and steal the livelihoods,” he stressed.
However, the minister hinted at “targeted restrictions” and said that the government will take only those measures that will not threaten people’s livelihoods.
He further said that the NCOC had identified and conveyed information related to coronavirus hotspots with provinces. But he admitted the implementation of these smart lockdowns was not satisfactory.
His comments came a day after Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed reportedly issued a statement — and later retracted — suggesting the country will enter a new lockdown on Monday to combat the contagious disease.
The national coronavirus transmission rate inched down to 8.74 per cent on Sunday — from 9.46 per cent a day earlier — government data showed, as the country reported 3,667 new cases in the last 24 hours after conducting 41,960 tests.
Meanwhile, 2,092 patients recovered from the disease in the last 24 hours, while the total recoveries stood at 581,852.
In all, 626,802 cases and 13,843 deaths linked to the coronavirus have been reported in Pakistan since February last. 44 more deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, including 30 in Punjab and six in Khyber Pakthunkhwa (KP).
A breakdown of the total cases showed that 263,058 cases were detected in Sindh, 197,177 in Punjab, 79,245 in KP, 19,327 in Balochistan, 51,414 in Islamabad, 4,972 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), and 11,609 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
“An NCOC meeting is scheduled to be held on Monday at which we will review the situation, and if it does not improve, a decision of stricter measures can be announced,” Asad had announced on Friday.
He had also said that hospital beds were filling fast and warned of stricter curbs if health guidelines were not followed.
“The new strain [first found in the United Kingdom] spreads faster and is more deadly,” he had said in a tweet.