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Pakistan

Battling coronavirus: Lockdown cannot be reinforced for indefinite period: PM

PM says decision to open mosques has been taken keeping in view the religious fervor and sentiments of the people f
Updated 21 Apr, 2020
  • PM says decision to open mosques has been taken keeping in view the religious fervor and sentiments of the people for the holy month of Ramazan.
  • Government has also launched "Ehsaas Ration Portal" with an aim to help and support the poor segments of the society: Prime minister.
  • Dr Faisal Sultan says prime minister's corona test will be conducted as he met Faisal Edhi who tested positive for coronavirus.

(Karachi) Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that lockdown cannot go on for an indefinite period as it will affect the economy and poor people in the country.

Addressing a media briefing on coronavirus situation in Islamabad on Tuesday, he said that coronavirus has created difficulties for nations around the world. He added that it is government's priority to save people from hunger.

He said the government has also launched "Ehsaas Ration Portal" with an aim to help and support the poor segments of the society.

The PM mentioned that Corona Relief Tiger Force members will work voluntarily and will provide food and ration to poor people in far-flung areas. "Some elements are trying to make the tiger force disputed and politicize the matter."

He said that the decision to open mosques has been taken keeping in view the religious fervor and sentiments of the people for the holy month of Ramazan. "We cannot stop people forcibly from going to mosques. And if they go, will the police put worshippers in jail? This does not happen in an independent nation," Imran stated.

"I felt very bad when I saw police beating up people. Ramazan is a month of worship, people want to go to mosques," the PM remarked.

However, he said that if coronavirus cases start spreading in mosques then the government will be forced to take action in this regard. "Those who want to worship in mosques will have to follow an action plan based on 20 points agreed between the government and the ulema," he said.

He urged people to worship at homes to curb spread of the virus.

Speaking on the occasion, PM's Focal Person on Coronavirus Dr Faisal Sultan said that the prime minister's corona test will be conducted and the decision has been taken after the PM met Faisal Edhi who had been infected with the virus.

He said coronavirus infections in Pakistan are expected to reach 12,000 to 15,000 by the end of April, as projected by government experts. He highlighted that 17 people died of the deadly disease in the country.

He added the government is closely monitoring corona situation and taking effective steps to deal with the pandemic.

Planning Minister Asad Umar said that the government is considering to go for 'smart lockdown'. He said consultation in this regard is under way with the chief ministers of the four provinces. "We are trying to lift restrictions in phases and hopefully the smart lockdown will be implemented within a few days."

Criticizing India for accusing Pakistan of spreading coronavirus through Kashmir, Umar said we are following PM's guidelines to spread an environment of brotherhood around the region. "You take care of your citizens, we will take care of ours," he remarked.

Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr. Sania Nishtar said more than 60 billion rupees have been disbursed among needy and deserving people under Ehsaas Emergency Cash program. She expressed optimism that program will be able to reach 10 million families. She said Prime Minister inaugurated Ehsaas Ration Portal today in which charities and philanthropic organizations can register themselves. This program will help people getting ration who are daily wagers and are not able to work due to lockdown.

Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said a large package will be presented in meeting of National Coordination Committee tomorrow. After its approval by NCC and cabinet, it will be advertised on media. This package aims at helping people who have lost their jobs due to lockdown.

He said another package is being brought for electricity and will be launched later this month. He said small and medium businesses with commercial meters will benefit from this package.

Hammad Azhar said we are working with Ministry of Finance and State Bank of Pakistan to introduce a scheme of loans for people who do not have any collateral to offer.

Special Assistant on National Security Dr. Moeed Yusuf said Torkham and Chaman crossings have been opened and a specified number of Pakistanis have started returning from Afghanistan. He said border with India is closed and some Pakistanis have returned. He said as soon as border with India opens, more Pakistanis will be able to return back.

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