NCC meeting decides on complete lockdown on weekends, no change in shop timings

Our Correspondent ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan in a live televised address apprised the nation on the decisions made regarding the lockdown in Pakistan to contain the novel coronavirus during the National Coordination Committee (NCC) meeting held on Monday. Noting that the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) met every morning and consulted everyone, including health experts from Pakistan and around the world, on every step, PM Imran spoke of the country’s response and the current situation regarding the coronavirus. “Since day one when we got to know that the coronavirus had started spreading in Pakistan, we imposed a lockdown following a national security committee meeting. He said he had earlier informed the nation that Pakistan’s condition was not the same as China and Europe as there were nearly 50 million people in the country were below the poverty line and 25 million were daily wagers, who could not earn due to the lockdown. “The virus spreads at a fast pace [and] imposing lockdown is not the cure to it… It only slows the spread of the virus. The lockdown helped reduce pressure on medical workers and hospitals,” he said. “A lockdown is different for people in Pakistan as well. There are people who live in palaces and there are several people who live in slums — their approaches to the lockdown were different. “I did not want a lockdown like the one that was imposed in Pakistan [but] due to the 18th Amendment, the provinces took their own decisions due to pressure. “I would not have stopped business and construction as we had to balance the situation. Coronavirus is not going away unless until a vaccine is not formulated,” he said. “America — which has given a stimulus of $3,000 billion — has also decided to lift the lockdown as their economy would collapse because there is no guarantee that the virus will go away if a lockdown persists,” he said. “If people take precautionary measures, we can tackle the virus. If we close specific areas, then the businesses of those areas will be affected.” PM Imran mentioned that the government had prepared a negative list, which “will be shared later in the day as a debate is being held over the resumption of tourism”. “Several places only earn in three to four months of summers and if we do not open the tourism [industry], people will be adversely affected due to no income,” the premier said, noting that the governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan were mulling over it. Citing the example of India, he said the lockdown had caused adversities there and people were forced into extreme poverty. “They have also lifted their lockdown as their economy cannot bear it anymore,” he said. “I want [the medical fraternity] to know that there are millions who have been affected by the lockdown. “We are not in a state to extend the lockdown as it has had an adverse effect our economy. Our exports have plunged and we fear that our remittances might fall as well. “The government feels for you. Do not think that we do not take your conditions into account. I have decided to hold a meeting with their representatives as well. >>>> ON PAGE 6