In a speech in Afghanistan on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan explained and defended the government ’s decision to relax the blockade, which was proposed to curb the spread of coronavirus in Pakistan. He said: “We must endure this virus this year.”
The Prime Minister said that he wanted to address the medical community in particular, because he knew that, given the pressure on medical facilities, they were shocked by the announcement to curb restrictions.
“I assure you my government has full realisation of what sort of pressures you must face with regard to your families and children.”
He said that for the medical community, it is important to understand how a country solves such a huge problem, the choices it must make and the impact of decision-making on the entire society.
“If someone had told me with certainty that we need to keep the country locked down for three months and then we will defeat the virus. we could have done it. We would have dedicated all our resources to fighting it and would have tried to ensure food supplies to homes with out volunteers.
“But all the medical experts in the world are saying there are no signs of a vaccine this year […] so this means the virus isn’t going anywhere,” said the premier.
He said the rationale behind a lockdown was to prevent the spread of the virus as it is highly contagious. “But will the virus end with a lockdown?”
The Prime Minister then spoke to countries that witnessed the second outbreak of the virus, such as China, South Korea, Singapore and Germany.
“We have to live with this virus. This year we have to make do with the virus.”
He said he was asking the medical community if they really thought the lock could be executed for another two months.
When comparing Pakistan ’s economy with that of developed countries, the Prime Minister once again talked about how other countries announced economic stimulus plans worth hundreds of billions of dollars, while Pakistan managed to allocate only 8 billion.
He said that these countries are not as poor as Pakistan.
He provided statistics based on the labor force survey conducted in 2017 and 2018. He said there are 25 million workers and other daily-paid workers.
“There are 25 million workers who depend on their daily wage or weekly wage […] to feed their families they make use of this income.
“These are the people who were forced into their homes during their lockdown. They had no other means [to earn a livelihood].”
The Prime Minister said that as a result, 150 million people are now affected by the blockade.
He said that despite the severe situation, Pakistan managed to do things that many countries have not done. He took the Essas Emergency Cash Plan as an example, which allocated 12,000 rupees to families deprived of income due to the blockade. He said: “We distributed 12,000 rupees through Essas. How long can we do this?” How long can 12,000 rupees last? “
The Prime Minister said that this situation made it necessary to take such measures. The government is fully aware of the pressure from the medical community and is fully aware that the number of cases will continue to increase.
He praised the work done by the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), he said the organization evaluated data from all over the country, evaluated factors such as spontaneous spread due to the influx of passengers, and this trend It really points to the upward trajectory.
“But we also know that if we do not give [labourers] livelihood today there will be deaths from hunger.
“Others are saving their economy, we are saving people from hunger […] we have no choice but to reopen the economy.”
He said that “due to the steps taken in the country since the beginning, Pakistan did not see a fallout witnessed in other countries”.
“We have things under control,” said PM Imran.
He said that when he spoke to the United States on April 14, the forecast up to May 14 predicted 52,695 and 1,324 deaths, while the actual number was 35,700 and 770 deaths. “So our hospital did not see the kind of pressure we expected.”
Prime Minister Imran called on the nation to follow standard operating procedures established by the government to ensure the safety of the people. “If we find that the number of cases in some areas has surged, then these areas will have to be under the blockade again.”