Imran Khan lauds 'smart lockdown' as coronavirus cases in Pakistan continue to decline

Islamabad, PakistanUpdated: Jul 27, 2020, 11:19 PM IST

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (File photo) Photograph:(ANI)

Story highlights

Khan asked people to wear masks on Eid and during Muharram, cautioning that the COVID-19 cases would start rising again if the guidelines are not followed

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that the smart lockdown policy adopted by his government was proving successful in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus which has claimed 5,842 lives and infected 274,289 people in the country.

Talking to journalists, Khan said his government was under pressure to implement a strict lockdown, but he resisted it to create a balance between opportunities for livelihood and saving people from COVID-19.

"Pakistan is among those few countries where the coronavirus cases are decreasing," he said, adding that the infection rate was still going up in India.

Khan asked people to wear masks on Eid and during Muharram, cautioning that the COVID-19 cases would start rising again if the guidelines are not followed.

"If precautionary measures are not adopted during Eid-ul Azha and Muharram-ul Haram, the country will witness another spike of coronavirus cases...In case of increase in the cases, the government will have to impose lockdown again, which will negatively affect economy of the country," he said.

Khan said his government had announced a package for the construction industry and provided financial help to poor people during the pandemic.

Khan's remarks came as Pakistan's coronavirus tally reached 274,289 with the detection of 1,176 new cases in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday.

Twenty more people died overnight due to coronavirus-related complications in Pakistan, pushing the death toll to 5,842, it said.

Sindh reported the highest number of 118,311 cases, followed by 92,073 in Punjab, 33,397 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 14,884 in Islamabad, 11,601 in Balochistan, 2,034 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and 1,989 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The authorities have so far conducted 1,890,236 tests, including 22,056 in the last 24 hours, to detect coronavirus.

According to the ministry, the coronavirus situation in the country is improving with the increase in the number of recoveries and the decrease in new cases.

Of the total 274,289 cases, including the new 1,176 patients, 241,026 have recovered, which constitute 87.87 per cent, it said.

There are currently 27,421 active cases, the ministry said.

However, officials warned that the situation could again deteriorate if the people ignored COVID-19 guidelines during Eid, which will be observed on August 1, followed by Ashura a month later.

Special Advisor on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza, on Sunday asked people to follow the standard operating procedures (SoPs).

"We will certainly be facing challenges on Eidul Azha and Ashura, which may lead to another spike in the coronavirus outbreak," he said.

Planning minister Asad Umar, who also heads the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC), tweeted that action was being taken against those violating the rules.

He said over 500 illegal cattle markets have been shut across the country to ensure public health safety.