Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that he had asked the Pakistan Army to assist the police and law enforcement agencies in enforcing SOPs for curbing the spread of the coronavirus, warning that Pakistan may soon be facing a situation similar to India if the current trend continues.
Addressing the nation after a meeting of the National Coordination Committee, he said: “I am appealing to you to follow SOPs so that we don’t have to take steps that India is taking which means imposing lockdowns. Half the problem is solved when you wear face masks.”
New SOPs announced by the NCOC:
Schools in districts with over 5 per cent positivity rate closed till Eid
Markets to be closed at 6 p.m.
Indoor and outdoor dining banned till Eid; only takeaway and delivery to be allowed
Office timings limited to 2 p.m.
50 per cent of staff to be allowed in offices
“If our circumstances become the same as India, then we will have to close down cities. We can’t do that because, as experience has shown, the poor suffer the most when lockdowns are imposed,” the Prime Minister said.
“People are telling me to impose a lockdown today, but we are not going to do so because, and I keep repeating this, daily wagers and labourers will suffer the most.”
That is why we have not taken action, he said, adding that however long this lasts will depend on the people. The premier called on the nation to start observing precautionary measures, in the same way which you did the previous year during Ramazan, the Dawn reported.
“Pakistan was the only country which had kept mosques open last year during Ramazan. I was proud of the way our religious scholars and imams informed the people about precautionary measures,” he said.
The premier also noted that very few people were following SOPs. “If we don’t take precautionary measures, we will have to impose a lockdown which will also affect our economy at a time when it is on the rise.”
The Prime Minister added that he had asked the Pakistan Army to assist the police and law enforcement agencies in enforcing SOPs. “We have been asking people to follow precautionary measures. But we have seen that people have become careless.”
He added that the government was making all out efforts to procure vaccines. “We have asked China, but their demand is also quite large. There is a shortage in the rest of the world.”
Even if we get the vaccines today, it will take at least a year for them to have an impact, he said. “What will make the biggest difference is following precautionary measures,” he said, reiterating that half the problem is solved when wearing face masks.
He hoped that once the nation starts following SOPs, the number of cases would decrease. “Until we face this together, we will not be able to win. I remember how a year ago people adopted precautionary measures and followed SOPs before Ramazan because they were scared.
“But citizens have become tired over the span of a year and fatigue has set in which is why there is such a stark difference.” He hoped the nation would follow SOPs so that the government is not forced to lock down cities.