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Tuesday Mar 17 2020
Web Desk

'Ghabrana nahi hai', PM Imran tells nation amidst coronavirus outbreak

Web Desk

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday urged the nation not to panic, telling them to act responsibly as the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the country. 

The prime minister said that the virus was dangerous for the elderly since it attacked their already-weakened immune system. PM Imran also assured the nation saying that 97% of the affectees eventually recovered from the virus. 

He paid tribute to the Government of Balochistan and the Pakistan Army for ensuring that pilgrims arriving from Taftan were quarantined. Quarantine arrangements at Taftan had been a topic of heated debate earlier in the day, with opposition politicians criticising the government for not handling the facilities appropriately. 

The premier further assured that the government was following the coronavirus situation closely. 

Read more: Coronavirus updates, March 17: Latest news on the coronavirus outbreak from Pakistan and around the world

The prime minister also spoke about the coronavirus situation around the world, saying that the US, Italy and England have reacted differently to the virus. 

However, he said that Pakistan cannot afford the same response as European countries. 

"Our economic situation is very fragile," he said. "If we close down the country, what will happen to the poor? People will die of hunger here," he said. 

PM Imran said that his government had already taken the "difficult decision" to prohibit public gatherings and ban events where public showed up in large numbers, such as the Pakistan Super League 2020. 

'The coronavirus will spread'

The prime minister said that while the government and people will take precautions, he said that the people should be warned that the virus will spread nonetheless. 

"We need to understand that the virus will spread," he said during his address. 

Economic fallout to be contained

The prime minister also said that a committee has been tasked to determine how the government can cope with the economic fallout of the crisis. 

He said that he feared food prices will rise once again as profiteers and hoarders will once again resume their illicit activities. 

"I want to warn these people: do not attempt to profit off of people's misery," he said. "The state will take stern action against you."

He noted that the virus was spreading in countries and said the government was studying the responses of other governments and how they were acting to eliminate the pandemic. 

'Be responsible: avoid large gatherings and shaking hands'

The prime minister also urged the people to join the government in its 'war' against the disease by 'acting responsibly'. 

As an example, he urged people to avoid large gatherings and refrain from shaking hands with each other. 

PM Imran asked the nation not to panic and said that every person should not get himself/herself tested based only on the presence of flu symptoms. He said that testing kits, due to their limited supply, should be used only for people who are actually suffering from the novel coronavirus. 

"Aap ne ghabrana nahi hai [You should not panic]," he said. "It is our belief that life and death are in the hands of Allah."

He also praised the efforts of doctors and nurses working on the front-lines and said that the government will assist them in their 'jihad' (holy struggle) against the coronavirus. 

The prime minister also empathised with the plight of overseas Pakistanis in this hour, especially Pakistani students who remain stranded in Wuhan, and promised to repatriate them soon. 

The prime minister also addressed the country's religious leaders and asked them to act responsibly and play a positive role in the crisis.