PM rules out another lockdown but expresses concern over increasing pressure on hospitals

Statesman Report

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday asked people to act responsibly and wear masks amid the second coronavirus wave, as it is the "easiest precaution one can take".

Addressing a media briefing in Lahore, he expressed concern that the daily death toll has now hit 50 from single digit figures just two weeks ago.

He said that Pakistan will avoid closing down factories and businesses, as people's livelihoods are linked to these. "We cannot render the daily wage worker unemployed."

"But 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."

Imran said Pakistan's exports are on the rise and "we are ahead of India and Bangladesh".

"I recently visited Faisalabad and our textile industry is booming, so much so that they are short of workers. So we will not shut down factories," he reiterated.

"While safeguarding against corona, we cannot allow our people to die of hunger. Our economy has recovered after such hard work, we cannot stop its smooth functioning at this juncture," the prime minister said.

The premier said that Pakistan "successfully fought off" the virus in the first wave and urged people to demonstrate the same willingness to follow safety measures "as they had in the early months of the outbreak".

'No rallies will be allowed'

Responding to a query about whether the government will allow the Opposition to continue to hold public rallies, he said that no such activity must take place which causes coronavirus to spread rapidly.

"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.

"Which is why I had appealed to people before as well [...] we had put off our own rally. And I had said that until the situation is brought under control, until the curve of infections is brought down, no rallies will take place," said the prime minister.

PM Imran Khan reminded everyone that an Islamabad High Court order is also in effect which prohibits large gatherings from being held.

"These people are endangering the lives of people," he said.

"These rallies are of absolutely no use at all. They will not get an NRO," vowed the premier, adding that this is why the government will "never allow any rallies".