PM Imran set to make final decision on easing virus lockdown across Pakistan


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will give final approval to the recommendations about easing lockdown restrictions in the country in a meeting of National Coordination Committee (NCC) today.

The NCC is the apex coronavirus decision-making body headed by the prime minister and comprising top civil and military leaders including the provincial chief executives.

The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday, in a meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, had proposed easing in lockdown restrictions after May 9.

The NCOC had also proposed the resumption of transportation services across the country.

The NCC meeting, chaired by the prime minister, will review the current situation of the coronavirus pandemic in the country and take a final decision about which sectors should be opened first as the number of patients surged past 24,000.

Earlier in the day, Punjab, Balochistan, and Sindh, in an inter-provincial education ministers conference, had opposed reopening educational institutions after June 1.

In the meeting, chaired by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, the provinces stressed on keeping educational institutions closed. The meeting remained inconclusive and the matter was left for the NCC to decide.

On Tuesday, the Federal Cabinet had approved a proposal about easing country-wide restrictions after May 9.

PM Imran had backed the proposal of easing restrictions in the country, keeping in view the hardships being faced by people due to the lockdown.

However, he warned of an abrupt spike in infections if the standard operating procedures (SOPs) were not implemented strictly after easing of the lockdown.

Post-lockdown SOPs

The NCOC has firmed up multiple recommendations to ease the lockdown restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The measures include the opening of inter-provincial transportation in line with laid down Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and operationalisation of selective of Outdoor Patients Departments (OPDs) in the federal capital.

The suggestions included measures to strike a balance between efforts to curb coronavirus and revive economic activities. These will remain in effect till May 31, if approved in tomorrow’s meeting.

The recommendations also include the opening of phase II of the construction sector and the reopening of retail outlets.

The participants also proposed that shops should remain open from 9 am to 5 pm, and then again from 8 pm to 10 pm.

No changes were made in the SOPs for religious festivities in the second half of the holy month of Ramadan; the measures will remain the same as previously agreed between the government and Ulema.

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