Monday Mar 30, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday announced the government's measures to contain the coronavirus, saying that a relief team made up of the youth will be instrumental in winning the war against the pandemic. He issued a stern warning to hoarders and profiteers, warning them that the state will "make an example out of you".
He began his address by saying that the whole country was fighting the war against the coronavirus but China had emerged as the most successful country in containing the pandemic.
PM Imran said that China had locked down Wuhan to contain the virus. "Had Pakistan's situation been similar to China's, I would have ordered a lockdown in our cities as well," he said.
The prime minister said that 25% of Pakistan's population were the poor who couldn't afford two meals a day. He said that if the government was unable to look after the unemployed, then the lockdown will not be successful.
"This disease does not differentiate between the poor and the rich," he said, citing the example of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who contracted the infection as well.
The prime minister said that resources were not merely enough to win the war against the pandemic. "India decided to impose a countrywide lockdown. Today, their prime minister issued an apology to the nation for ordering a lockdown without proper planning," he added.
The prime minister compared the relief package of the United States with Pakistan, saying that there was no comparison between the two. "I announced a relief package of $8bn and the US announced a $2,000bn," he said.
PM Imran said that the nation will battle the coronavirus with two key elements: faith and Pakistan's young population. "We have to combat coronavirus and use these two strengths to win the war [against coronavirus]," he said.
The prime minister announced a "Corona Tigers Relief Force" which would aid the administration and the armed forces in containing the virus. He said that a dedicated cell at the PM Office was monitoring the spread of the virus.
PM Imran said that the relief force will provide food to the people at their doorsteps and will educate them on the safety precautions against the virus. He said young doctors, nurses, drivers and people belonging to any profession could choose to become part of the force.
The premier said that people were treating coronavirus patients like 'criminals' and reiterated that only the old and the weak needed to be hospitalised in case they contracted the infection.
"Only three to four percent of the people need to be hospitalised when they contract the coronavirus," he said. "The rest need to self-quarantine to get better."
He said that the government was opening a "Prime Minister Corona Relief Fund" account which will help aid people affected by the pandemic. PM Imran said that the account will be opened in the National Bank of Pakistan.
He called on the people to donate generously and said that no questions will be asked about the sources of the funds. "For those who deposit money in this account, the government will provide them tax relief," said PM Imran.
PM Imran said that the State Bank of Pakistan will provide loans on concessions to businesses that do not lay off employees as long as the crisis persists.
The prime minister said that when people hoarded products, their prices increased and as a result, the poor were left out.
PM Imran warned people from increasing prices artificially to earn profit. "Those who want to make money from the hunger of the poor, the state will take strict action against you. The state will make an example out of you," he added.
He cited the example of the Ansar and Muhajireen from Islamic history and urged masses to unite to "defeat hoarders and create the spirit that will win the war against the coronavirus."
He said that the government was opening an account with the name "Prime Minister Corona Relief Fund" which will help aid people affected by the pandemic. PM Imran said that the account will be opened in the National Bank of Pakistan.
He called on the people to donate generously to the account and said that no questions will be asked about the sources of the funds. "For those who deposit money in this account, the government will provide them tax relief," said PM Imran.
PM Imran urged people to demonstrate responsibility by practicing social distancing. "Remember, if you are not careful, you are putting the lives of others in danger as well as your own," he said.