ISLAMABAD : Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said that his government will not declare a lockdown due to the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.
Addressing the nation Khan said Pakistan has no capacity to provide food to 25 percent poor people if a lockdown is announced. The prime minister addressed the nation over COVID-19 in five days as Pakistan has confirmed four deaths while a total of confirmed cases are 644. He was responding to the rising debate of lockdown in the country in the wake of the spread of coronavirus. “A complete lockdown means a curfew where we have to call in police and army to ensure that no one comes out of his/her home. We need to understand that 25 percent Pakistanis are living below the poverty line. These people cannot afford two proper meals,” Khan said while responding to calls for a lockdown to control spread of the epidemic. “A complete lockdown in Pakistan means that people like rikshaw driver, daily wages, taxi drivers, corner shop owners will face immense financial challenges. They will be limited to their homes and won’t be able to feed their families,” Khan further said while defending his government’s position.
He said being a 3rd world country Pakistan does not have enough resources to provide for such daily wages earners, adding that China is the 2nd richest country of the world and they could afford to provide for their people. “The solution for Pakistan is self-isolation. You must observe self-isolation or if you have flu or cough, practice self-quarantine. There are 90 percent chances that you will recover. It is our elderly who need proper care and healthcare assistance,” Khan said. “If our people will not practice caution and this disease spreads, it will be a disaster. If people think of this quarantine time as vacation, arrange gathering; the corona will widely spread. It will be fatal for all especially our senior citizens,” he said.
Khan said the government has already closed all big malls and postponed cricket matches and now it is responsibility of the people to practice social distancing. The Pakistani prime minister also praised China to fight the coronavirus. “The way China came out victorious against this pandemic, so will we. My team and I are taking all measures to support our economy and industries. If you fear food shortage, let me assure you there will be none,” he went on to say. He urged the people not to be panic in the current situation as panic is more fatal than corona itself. “What’s important, is not to panic. If people start hoarding, it will cause shortage of food. It might lead to grave consequences. My team and I are on top of this. We are looking into how we overcome these challenges and maintain public’s ease,” Khan said. He also urged the media to ensure that there is no panic as “we have to fight this together. The key is to practice precaution and self-discipline. The way China has controlled it, we will do the same,” he maintained.