Pakistan PM Imran Khan rules out closing down businesses amid a surge in COVID-19 cases

ISLAMABAD Published: Nov 26, 2020, 07:48 AM(IST)

Pakistan to announce its first-ever National security policy today Photograph:( Reuters )

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Khan told media in Lahore that he was concerned about the situation after the daily COVID-19 death toll crossed 50 while being as low as below the single-digit just two weeks ago.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday ruled out closing down businesses and urged the public to follow health guidelines as the country grappled with the second wave of the coronavirus with the national tally of infections reaching 382,892.

Khan told media in Lahore that he was concerned about the situation after the daily COVID-19 death toll crossed 50 while being as low as below the single-digit just two weeks ago.

He said that despite the rising cases, his government would not shut down factories and businesses.

"We cannot render the daily wage worker unemployed," he said, adding that people should follow the guidelines.

"I strongly urge all factory, shop, and shopping mall owners to strictly enforce safety protocols. And the easiest thing to do is just to wear a mask," he said.

He said that Pakistan was successful in defeating the virus during the first wave and asked people to show the same willingness to follow safety measures.

In reply to a question, he said that the opposition should stop holding public rallies as his government would not allow any such activity because it would spread the infection.

"We must never allow any such activities which cause people to gather. We know that when people have close contact, the virus spreads at a very fast rate," he said.

Khan's remarks came as Pakistan detected more than 3,009 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the national tally to 382,892, while 59 people died in a single day, taking the COVID-19 death toll to 7,803, according to the data issued by the Ministry of National Health Services.

Minister for Planning Asad Umar who is heading the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), a dedicated official entity to combat the virus, issued a warning on late Tuesday that the situation would further deteriorate in the coming two weeks.

"We experienced a peak in COVID-19 cases in June and if we do not follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), we may face the worst situation in the next two weeks," he said.

He said that lately, 1,750 people were on oxygen or ventilators, while in June, 3,400 were on ventilators.

The ministry reported that at least 332,974 people recovered from the disease but some 1,867 were in critical condition. The number of active patients was 42,115.

The authorities performed at least 41,583 tests on the last day, showing a positivity rate of 7.2 per cent.

Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaisar called a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on COVID-19 on Wednesday in the Parliament House.

He invited all parliamentary parties but the 11-party alliance, Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM), refused to attend it.

"It is illegal for the speaker to call the meeting as he is not authorized to convene it," PDM Secretary-General and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Health Services said that Pakistan completed the second round of COVID-19 study that showed around 7 per cent or 15 million people are exposed to the virus.

"In the second round, about 7per cent of individuals were detected to be exposed to COVID-19 around the time the survey was conducted which was before the recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases," according to the survey.

Pakistan is among the few countries that have conducted and completed the Seroprevalence study in big and small cities, which also showed that a lot of people remained asymptomatic, recommending wearing masks.

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