Pakistan cannot afford to impose a total lockdown: PM Imran

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Prime Minister Imran Khan again urged the country on Sunday to remain calm and not panic as the country fights 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 prime minister added that if the situation in the country escalates like Italy and China, he will consider imposing a blockade. “Let me tell you what a lock-up is. A blockade means a curfew and prevents people from joining the army on the street, “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 can be contained if people no longer attend parties and weddings and stay at home to ensure that the spread of the virus is kept to a minimum.

“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. 

The prime minister cited China as an example, saying that if the public is disciplined and self-isolated, Pakistan could escape this pandemic.

“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 also organized a meeting on Sunday where he discussed the measures taken to combat the spread of the virus in the country.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister was informed about the steps taken by the provinces.

Speaking to the United States last week, the Prime Minister had ruled out the possibility of a total blockade by saying that the economic consequences would be catastrophic and that the consequences would prove to burden the poor.

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