Imran urges provinces to ‘reassess’ complete lockdowns

Islamabad, March 26 (IANS) While reiterating his hesitance in imposing a full-scale lockdown in Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the country's leaders to “discuss and reassess” their strategies in order to find a way to tackle the situation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, it was reported on Thursday.

The country currently has 1,078 confirmed cases with seven fatalities, reports Dawn news.

Addressing a meeting of parliamentary leaders being chaired by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser via video link on Wednesday, Khan said imposing a national lockdown would be detrimental for the country's economy, adding that it was not possible to “rationally judge the repercussions of decisions taken out of fear and panic”.

He told the parliamentary leaders that until Tuesday, only 153of the confirmed cases were locally transmitted.

“In a way this is a very good thing for us,” he said, pointing out that the rest of the cases had been imported from other countries.

The premier, while urging leaders to reassess the situation said: “There are types of lockdown; initially we imposed lockdown by shutting down schools and universities and cancelling matches.

“Sindh (government) believed that (they) should go beyond that… The Centre and I were of the opinion that we should not go as far as Sindh at the time. But then there was pressure from the media… Under that pressure, KP, Punjab and Balochistan also imposed incremental lockdowns.”

He went on to say that imposing a lockdown, under which transport had to be suspended, would affect poor people, especially in villages.

“I believe that we should not go towards a lockdown in which we shut down transport. I believe that we will have to face huge problems on the supply side. I feel that this lockdown will affect our construction industry and there will be unemployment on a huge scale.

“Since provinces have taken their decisions, in tomorrow's (Thrusday) National Coordination Committee's meeting, I will put forward recommendations based on the assessments made by (my) team… I feel that we will have to constantly reassess. Because every step we take has repercussions for society.”

Pakistan has already closed its borders with Iran and Afghanistan, Dawn news reported.

A lockdown has been imposed in Sindh to contain the spread of the virus.

Other provinces and federal territories have also imposed partial lockdowns.



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