Islamabad, March 28 (IANS) Amid rising coronavirus cases in Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan has lifted the ban on the nationwide movement of goods and decided to allow opening of food-related industries to ensure adequate supply of essential items.
The prime minister announced the decision at a press conference on Friday after chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee, reports Dawn news.
Khan's announcement comes as Pakistan recorded the biggest single-day jump in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
The country has registered 1,363 cases with 11 deaths. Punjab province has topped Sindh with the maximum number of infections at 490.
“Today we have decided to lift ban on inter-provincial movement of goods transport to ensure sufficient food supplies during countrywide lockdown situation so that there is no shortage of essential food items,” Khan said in the press conference.
However, he said the ban on other public transport would remain enforced.
The premier said the meeting also decided to allow opening of food-related industries to meet a surge in demand of essential items because of “panic buying”.
Khan said that so far Pakistan had not been affected as badly as countries like Italy, Iran and the US.
But there was no certainty that Pakistan would not witness a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases in coming weeks, he said, adding that the government was preparing itself for the “worst-case scenario”.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar directed that all shops in the province, including grocery stores, remain closed from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. from Sunday onwards.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed the authorities to ensure closure of shops after 5 p.m. from Saturday.