–Imran rules out another lockdown
LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed concern for the capacity of hospitals to deal with the surge of new cases after Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar sounded the alarm on Wednesday as the country crossed the grim milestone of 3,000 fresh infections in a single day.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, the premier said that authorities were “worried” about increasing pressure on hospitals and urged the people to cooperate with the government, and to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) so that people’s livelihoods are not affected by another lockdown.
He reminded the public that by “coming together and taking precautions”, they had been able to overcome the pandemic in July, and urged the people to do the same now.
PM Imran stressed that he does not want “people to die due to hunger while protecting them from coronavirus”. He added that the exports have started to show signs of recovery and it would be harmful to shut down factories again.
The premier also spoke against the opposition rallies, which are exacerbating the situation. “Nothing will come of these rallies and gatherings, no one will get an NRO. They (opposition) are endangering people’s lives,” he said.
After a peak of over 6,800 daily infections in June, the number fell to a low of 213 in August and remained below 700 for most of the last three months.
But a second wave of the coronavirus is gathering momentum. According to the government portal, the country recorded 3,009 new infections after conducting 41,583 tests — a positivity ratio of 7.24 per cent. While some 59 people died in the last 24 hours of virus-related complications.
There are currently 42,115 active cases in Pakistan, as of November 25.
“A total of 3,009 crore cases were added, 59 deaths, 324 new patients were admitted to hospitals, 116 patients on oxygen beds […] these are the statistics of one day,” Umar said.
کل 3009 کرونا کیس کا اضافہ، 59 اموات، 324 نئے مریض ہسپتالوں میں داخل، آکسیجن بیڈز پر 116 مریضوں کا اضافہ….. یہ ایک دن کے اعدادوشمار ہیں. جو آپ کو بتا رہا ہے کے کرونا سے کچھ نہیں ہو گا وہ آپ کی صحت اور روزگار دونوں کا دشمن ہے
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) November 25, 2020
“Whoever is telling you that nothing will happen to you because of coronavirus is the enemy of both your health and your livelihood.”
Umar has also urged opposition parties to avoid holding public meetings to curb the spread of the virus and asked all parliamentary parties to attend a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Covid-19 being held today at the Parliament House.
Although opposition parties have announced that they will not take part in the committee’s meeting, the minister said: “I appeal to all parliamentary parties to attend the meeting because politics will continue but first we have to save the people’s life by unanimously deciding the future line of action to combat coronavirus.”
As part of measures to reduce the spread of the virus, the government on Monday ordered to close down again all educational institutions from November 26 (Thursday) after the country had recorded its highest Covid-19 positivity ratio to date — at 7.46 per cent — with 19 per cent of the cases being reported from the education sector.
The positivity ratio in educational institutions rose from 1.8 per cent to 3.3 per cent during the last week — an increase of 82 per cent.
Officials on Monday said hospitalisations due to coronavirus doubled in the last two weeks, adding stress for the already troubled healthcare sector.
For the past several weeks, authorities have been sounding the alarm over a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this month, the nationwide positivity rate surpassed 5 per cent after a gap of over three months. The maximum positivity rate had reached 23 per cent in June as it had increased from 6 per cent in May, while the positivity rate was brought down to 1.7 per cent in September.
Despite the grim situation, the country has yet to fully utilise its claimed testing capacity of 74,407 and is currently testing significantly below numbers proposed by global health experts, reports suggest.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the country’s testing policies likely only record the most symptomatic patients while ignoring the spread among asymptomatic carriers, which studies have suggested comprise the majority of infections in the country.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has reminded people to use face masks in public places “to slow down the rate of the virus and ultimately control the pandemic” and follow social distancing measures.