ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz on Tuesday said that the government has devised a policy to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping in view the ground realities. Addressing a presser to brief on cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan before leaving for Karachi, the information minister said that the virus has affected the country’s economy and any decision was taken after consultation at National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) and other concerned forums. “When the virus cases started emerging in the country, we had only two testing laboratories,” he said while claiming that they had increased the testing facilities and availability of ventilators to a great extent since then. While reiterating the federal government’s policy, he said the country could not afford a complete lockdown. Shibli Faraz blamed that the virus situation has worsened after people failed to implement standard operating procedures (SOPs) during Eid prayers, leading to a surge in COVID-19 deaths across the country. “This could have been avoided if SOPs were implemented properly,” he said while urging public to adopt precautionary measures to avoid COVID-19 spread. He further warned that areas where SOPs are not followed, would be sealed under smart lockdown strategy. We have also suggested to impose fines and imprisonment for those failing to implement precautionary measures, the minister said. Speaking on the federal budget, the information minister said that they had provided relief to agriculture and construction industry despite facing economic losses. Shibli Faraz said that the cabinet has approved a proposal to continue provision of risk allowance to health workers in the country, other than approving legislation on safeguarding child rights. He further denied any fuel shortage in the country and said that petrol supply to parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) would also be restored soon.