ISLAMABAD – Ruling out a complete lockdown in the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday appealed to the nation to observe self-discipline and quarantine to fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“I would have gone for complete lockdown of the country had there been a similar situation in Pakistan like it had emerged in China and Italy”, Prime Minister said in his address to the nation, second in a week.
He observed that the situation in Pakistan does not call for a complete lockdown yet. “If the condition was similar to that of Italy, I would have imposed a lockdown”, he emphasised.
Prime Minister said a complete lockdown is not feasible as 25 percent of our population lives below the poverty line, adding that going for complete lockdown will make lives of poor people miserable.
He asked the listeners that in the scenario of a complete lockdown what would become of the labourers, daily wagers, and rickshaw and taxi drivers as they would have no resources to look after their families. Similarly, the government did not have the resources to cater to their needs.
He explained that China and Italy can afford a lockdown but Pakistan does not have a capacity to provide entire nation with food at home. Imran Khan pointed out that China did it because it was the second richest country in the world with adequate system and huge resources.
The Prime Minister said that his government required the nation’s full support and cooperation in tackling the Covid-19 threat as any slackness or irresponsibility on their part could cause serious damage.
“It is your responsibility to take precautions if you have symptoms, self-quarantine yourself”, he said and asked the nation to fully trust him.
The Prime Minister observed that about 90 per cent affected persons from the disease had mild symptoms and they recovered quickly. The disease posed serious threats to the old population or those who had respiratory complications.
“The pandemic could spread quickly, if the nation did not take precautionary measures,” he warned. If you have symptoms like flu and cough, stay inside your homes instead visiting hospitals. “Trust me we can come out of this challenging time by observing precautionary measures.”
He said if the nation imposed self discipline like the one exhibited by the Chinese nation, it would emerge successful in the current situation.
Social distancing should be given preferences instead holding marriages or other social gatherings insides homes, as it would be an injustice with the old population of the country that were the most vulnerable segment of society.
The Prime Minister said the country had no shortage of edible things and advised the people not to pile up things unnecessarily. “The issue of panic is more dangerous than coronavirus. If all go on panic buying sprees, it will result in irreparable damage to society,” he underscored.
The prime minister said the government had already issued directives for the closure of shopping malls and rescheduling of cricket events.
The prime minister said Allah Almighty often tried the believers with ordeals. “I have firm belief in my nation which always emerges out of the trying times successfully,” he said and cited the natural calamity of 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods which inflicted huge damages upon the country.
“I have strong hopes with my nation and it will not disappoint me”, he said and also acknowledged the support extended by the overseas Pakistanis in those hard times.
He further assured the nation that he along with his team were working day and night on how to tackle the situation and steer the business, economic and industrial sectors of the country out of the current economic slowdown. In this regard, he would announce a plan within a couple of days, he added.
The nation, he said, should have full confidence in his government and his economic team that had been fully alive to the current situation and devising mechanism to provide relief to the public by mitigating their problems.
The prime minister also highlighted that media has an important role in the current situation. Ends