COVID-19: Pakistan eases nationwide lockdown
Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday began easing the month-long lockdown despite a steady rise in the number of coronavirus cases which has now crossed the 28,000-mark with 618 deaths.
Doctors have warned against easing restrictions. The Representative of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) have demanded that the government observe World Health Organisation protocols and implement strict lockdown.
“We think the number will definitely spike. According to our information, there are five hospitals in Karachi that have a total of 63 beds reserved for coronavirus patients. If this is the condition in a city like Karachi, then you can imagine what it is like in other cities of Pakistan,” said Dr Ikram Tunio of the PMA in a press conference in Karachi.
Officials said that the total number of coronavirus cases jumped to 28,562 with Punjab reporting 10,471 patients, Sindh 10,771, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 4,327, Balochistan 1,876, Islamabad 609, Gilgit-Baltistan 421 and Kashmir 87.
Earlier, the Ministry of National Health Services said 24 new COVID-19 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 618.
So far 7,756 patients have recovered. The authorities said 2,70,025 COVID-19 tests have been conducted till now, including 12,982 in the last 24 hours.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah told the media that for the first time more than 1,000 patients were diagnosed with coronavirus in the province in a single day.
Ali tweeted 1,080 new virus cases were recorded, taking the number of infections in the province to 10,771.
Similarly, the most of number of infections recorded in a day were reported in Islamabad on Friday with 51 cases.
Despite the increasing cases, the first phase of easing lockdown began. The government announced removing restrictions by allowing more businesses to open and operate from dawn to 5pm.
Punjab’s Information Minister Fayyaz Chohan told the media that businesses were allowed to operate from Monday to Thursday from dawn until 5pm. “On the remaining three days, there will be complete lockdown,” he said adding big shopping malls will not be opened.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Ajmal Wazir also told the media that the provincial government will allow businesses for four days like in Punjab.
Even Balochistan information minister Liaquat Shahwani announced that all businesses will be allowed for four days.
The Sindh government will only allow construction businesses and related sectors to operate.
Apart from doctors, Opposition leaders have expressed reservations about the easing of lockdown.
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said “this government has no policy on lockdown or coronavirus”.
Meannwhile, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez has said Pakistani students from Wuhan, China, will be brought back on a special flight on May 18.
“Some 250 students will be brought back in the first flight which will land in Islamabad,” he said. The schedule for three more flights will be announced next week.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has appreciated the Made in Pakistan Initiative of the Ministry of Science and Technology, focusing on boosting indigenous productivity in the face of coronavirus pandemic. (PTI)