Coronavirus in Pakistan: PM Imran Khan sounds alarm, urges nation to follow SOPs

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday sounded alarm and urged the nation to follow the coronavirus-related standard operating procedures (SOPs), saying authorities have observed that infections in Pakistan quadrupled over the past 10 days.

Addressing the nation following a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on the COVID-19 coronavirus, PM Imran Khan said: “We reviewed the rising cases of the COVID-19 and the second wave — which is being experienced in the entire world, especially Europe and America, where cases are rising rapidly and even more than there were before.

“In America, the coronavirus cases have risen beyond the first peak and we see the same in England. They have started lockdowns; just like they shut down their countries earlier, they’ve gone towards the lockdowns again.

“We were observing how many cases were there in the provinces. So, first off, I wish to tell you that God was especially benevolent towards us. We are a very lucky nation — see our neighbours Iran and India — so God was especially kind to Pakistan, we were saved from the havoc the coronavirus wreaked in the rest of the world and in our neighbouring countries.

“We are thankful to God that our country was saved from the coronavirus deaths, and secondly, we also saved our economy from destruction, as compared to what’s happening in the other nations.

“However, our service sector sustained a lot of damage — for example, tourism, marriage halls, and restaurants — this is quite a large sector and it was hit significantly when we shut down our economy. Despite that, Pakistan — as opposed to the rest of the countries — performed way better during the first wave,” the premier noted.

Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad said the premier would address a press briefing after the meeting. 

The meeting comes after the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) recommended urgent and emergency measures to the NCC to control the rapidly-increasing second wave of coronavirus infections across the country.

The NCOC recommended limiting all public gatherings to 500 people, including cultural, political, religious, entertainment, and civil gatherings. It also suggested allowing only outdoor dining till 10:00 pm, shutting down cinemas and theatres, and closing down shrines. The NCOC also suggested an early closing of markets and safe days.

The body suggested notifying early and extending winter vacations to federal and provincial education departments, keeping in view the rising positivity rate in educational institutions. 

School closure

The decision on early and extended winter vacations was deferred till November 23, the Ministry of Federal Education/Professional Training said on Monday.

The announcement came after Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood convened a special meeting to deliberate the plan of action of educational institutes with provincial education ministers. 

According to the statement, provincial ministers apprised the forum about the latest coronavirus situation and the impact on the education sector in their regions, but no final decision was taken about vacations and closure of schools.

The Inter-Provincial Education Ministers’ Conference (IPEMC) will meet again on November 23 at 11:00 am to review the situation.

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