Sunday Mar 22, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday once again urged the nation to keep calm and not panic as the country battles the coronavirus outbreak.
“Pakistan cannot afford to impose a total lockdown. 25% of the people in the country live below the poverty line,” the prime minister said in an address to the nation.
"What will happen to them if I go ahead with the lockdown?" he said.
The premier added that if the situation in the country had escalated as it had in Italy and China he would have thought about imposing a lockdown. “Let me tell you what a lockdown is. A lockdown means putting a curfew and restricting people to their homes with the military on the streets,” he said.
“Ninety per cent of the people who get coronavirus recover after a few days. If the virus spreads, it is the elderly and the weak who will suffer and will have to go to the hospitals,” he remarked.
He added that the virus could be curbed if people stopped attending gatherings and weddings and started staying at home to ensure minimum spread of the virus.
"If people start celebrating weddings and attending large functions, they will put the elderly at risk. “It is your responsibility to exercise caution and restraint. This is why we have closed down malls, schools and universities."
“I take pride in my nation; we have braved many problems and crises. The Pakistani nation has united to fight challenges whenever the country has been faced with them. A nation’s character shines through in hard times and I saw my nation's character in the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods,” he remarked.
Citing China’s example, the prime minister said that Pakistan could also come out of this pandemic if the public was disciplined and practised self-isolation.
“The nation needs to know that my team and I are looking into this to make sure the public remains safe and we come out of this. For this reason, I will be announcing ways in which we can keep our economy afloat,” he said. "I will address you all once more day after tomorrow and tell you what we are doing for our industry."
The prime minister added, “The more you practice discipline, the easier it will be for us to get out of this crisis. Like the Chinese nation, we will also come out of this crisis.
“In the end, the only danger we have is the one created by the panic which leads to people hoarding and creating a shortage. You need to put your trust in me and my team because we are working on how to tackle this pandemic,” he added.
“You should show full confidence in me,” the prime minister said, adding that the media has an important role to play in ensuring panic does not spread.
The prime minister had also chaired a meeting on Sunday where he reviewed the measures taken to combat the spread of the virus in the country.
The prime minister was briefed in the meeting about the steps taken by the provinces.
In his address to the nation last week, the prime minister had ruled out a complete lockdown, saying that the economic impact will be disastrous and its effects will prove burdensome for the poor.
He had said that the government had already shut down cinemas and barred people from gathering at public places.
PM Imran had said that Italy and other countries that had imposed a lockdown as their per capita income was higher than Pakistan's. He said that it was important to keep the economy afloat and at the same time, keep people safe from the pandemic.