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pakistan
Tuesday Nov 24 2020
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Asad Umar requests masses to practice coronavirus safety precautions

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar addressing a press conference, on November 24, 2020. Photo: Geo News screengrab

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Tuesday said that the surge in coronavirus cases across the country is getting worse day by day and if precautions are not taken in a timely manner, patients will be unable to find beds in hospitals, just like it happened in June this year.

He was addressing a press conference alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan. 

"We started issuing warnings in early October as we had anticipated that the situation will worsen if the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) are not strictly followed," Asad Umar said. 

He added that back in June, more than 1,750 people across the country suffered from COVID-19-related complications and were in urgent need of oxygen. Meanwhile, others had to be shifted to ventilators. 

"At that time (in June), people were concerned about not finding beds in hospitals as infections had peaked during the first wave," he recalled. 

"Looking at the ongoing situation, which arose over the last three weeks, we will be pushed back to a similar situation if SOPs are not followed."

The minister added that in order to contain the rapid spread of the potentially deadly infection, the federal government will direct provincial administrations to speak to religious clerics and mosque Imams so that they could convince the masses to take precautionary measures once again. 

"Earlier this year, mosques had played a vital role in controlling the coronavirus situation in the country. Gradually, however, people stopped following the SOPs," Asad Umar said.

Shedding light on the decisions of the National Coordination Committee (NCC), minister Asad Umar said that the government has decided to close schools and ban indoor dining, among other measures.

He also appealed to the political parties of the country who are arranging jalsas despite the alarming situation, saying that the National Command Operation Center (NCOC) called to impose a ban on public gatherings — a move that was endorsed by the Islamabad High Court. 

Citing the example of India and western countries where thousand of people succumbed to the virus and lost their jobs, Asad Umar said that the government does not want a similar situation to arise in Pakistan.

"It is the responsibility of political leaders to spread awareness among the masses regarding the infection. I would myself fail as a politician if I endanger people's lives and livelihood by holding large gatherings," he said.

The minister said that a meeting of the parliamentary committee on coronavirus has been convened tomorrow, adding that he hopes political leadership present at the meeting will seriously consider the situation.

"I request the people of Pakistan to follow simple measures like not shaking hands, wearing masks, using hand sanitizers, and observing social distancing to control the pandemic," said Asad Umar. 

"If we follow these easy steps, Allah will save us from the virus, just like He did during the first wave of the pandemic," the minister concluded.