COVID-19: Pakistan May Reimpose Lockdown if People Do Not Follow Rules

Pakistan is not ruling out another lockdown if people continue to flout rules set to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country, says a top government official.

The warning came from Asad Umar, Federal Planning, Development andd Special Initiatives, after reports of people crowding markets and bazaars were highlighted by national and international media. As the lockdown was eased on May 9, masses thronged bazaars, shops and markets paying little heed to social distancing rules and mask wearing directives.  

While presiding over the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meeting, Umar expressed concern over the public’s complete disregard for the standard operational procedures (SOPs) set by the government before lockdown orders were lifted.

Risk of COVID-19 is high

Umar said the rules may have been eased but that didn’t mean the risk of the contagion had faded. People should realise the threat they face and must take all the precautions while going outside, he said.

“It seems people believe that lockdown has been completely lifted,” the minister said. “Do shop for Eid, but do not put your loved ones in danger. I hope that people would understand the gravity of the situation,” he said.

Pakistan has reported a higher number of daily cases since the lockdown has eased. The official count shows the number of people infected rose drastically; 2,255 new cases were detected during a twenty-hour hour cycle on Wednesday afternoon. The total tally has risen to 34,336, with 737 deaths and 8,812 recoveries.

Tiger relief force

However relief efforts are under way as well. On another occasion while addressing a ceremony related to the ‘Corona Relief Tiger Force’, Umar said the district administration would assign duties to the volunteer force and work in collaboration with it, reported the Express Tribune.

“Tiger Force would assist in monitoring utility and food stores,” he said. “They would also help in testing, tracking, quarantine and gathering data of people in need.”

Do shop for Eid but, do not put your loved ones in danger. I hope that people would understand the gravity of the situation.

– Asad Umar

Umar urged people that following the ease in lockdown since May 9, it is now the public’s responsibility to comply with all the standard operating procedures (SOPs), and take care of the health of their family, society and community at large.

Addressing a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), he called for a review into the situation that has emerged since the government eased the lockdown on May 9.

Eid shopping

Provincial chief secretaries informed the meeting that markets were heavily crowded, particularly with Eid-ul Fitr coming up. They put forth their difficulties in enforcing the SOPs and guidelines set in place by the federation and the provinces.

“The lockdown has been eased to facilitate the masses,” said Umar. The threat of the pandemic persists and anti-COVID-19 directives and SOPs have been sent to all provinces, he stressed.

Public awareness drive

The federal minister insisted that implementation of SOPs needed to be ensured, while adding that public awareness drives were also being broadcast on radio and television channels, as well as on all digital forums. He directed the provinces to ensure the implementation of SOPs.

Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the easing of the lockdown in phases with effect from May 9. In the first phase, small markets in residential localities and shops were allowed to reopen, businesses could operate from morning until 5pm and selected outdoor patient departments in hospitals were allowed to treat specific diseases and illnesses.

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