PM Khan rules out full lockdown as 1,300 coronavirus hotspots sealed across Pakistan

A girl wearing a protective mask looks out from a train window as she returns to her hometown, after Pakistan started easing the lockdown restrictions and allowed to resume passenger trains, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Karachi, Pakistan May 20, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 14 June 2020

PM Khan rules out full lockdown as 1,300 coronavirus hotspots sealed across Pakistan

  • Khan's announcement comes a day after Punjab government called for a tightening of containment measures in the province
  • Sealing of high-risk areas comes as Pakistan reported 6,472 news cases on Saturday, the country's highest single-day total

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan once again ruled out a comprehensive lockdown in the country during a press conference on Saturday while visiting the coronavirus epicentre of Punjab province which has recorded over 50,000 cases.
A day earlier, a list of recommendations were forwarded by the Punjab government to the Prime Minister, which called for a tightening of containment measures in the province and in particular in Punjab’s largest city, Lahore.
But while addressing a press conference in the provincial capital alongside Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Punjab’s health minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid, Khan said “selective lockdowns” based on tracking and tracing cases would be imposed as opposed to a sweeping lockdown. Khan added the country's administration and police could not take on the huge burden of a complete lockdown.
On Saturday, state-owned Radio Pakistan reported Pakistani authorities had identified and sealed off nearly 1,300 hot spots to contain the rising trajectory of new coronavirus infections.
The sealing of high-risk areas comes as Pakistan reported 6,472 news cases on Saturday, the country's highest single-day total. Pakistan has confirmed a total of 135,702 cases, including 2,593 deaths.
In March, the country put its entire population of nearly 220 million people under lockdown, but the government has since eased restrictions, saying it was necessary to save the country’s economy. The move has caused a huge surge in cases, with healthcare facilities in some cities reporting an inability to cope.
Since then, Khan has consistently resisted demands from experts to reinforce the lockdown and authorities are now using the term “smart lockdown” to close shops and markets where confirmed cases have increased in recent weeks.
Some residential areas were also sealed in the capital, Islamabad, to contain the spread of the virus.
Khan on Saturday said the public had not been taking government mandated SOP’s seriously so far, and warned that there would be "consequences" going forward if COVID-19 protocols were not followed.


General Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss Pakistan’s anti-polio campaign 

Updated 27 min 46 sec ago

General Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss Pakistan’s anti-polio campaign 

  • The American business tycoon praises the army for supporting the anti-polio drive and ensuring its reach and coverage 
  • The army chief passes on the credit to ‘grassroots workers’ 

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and American business tycoon and philanthropist Bill Gates spoke on telephone about Pakistan’s COVID-19 response and resumption of anti-polio campaign, said an official handout prepared and circulated by the military’s public relations wing, ISPR, on Saturday.
Gates applauded the Pakistan Army for supporting the anti-polio drive and ensuring the program’s proper reach and coverage.
In response, the army chief said that the effort to make Pakistan polio-free was a “national cause,” adding that the credit for running an effective campaign went to “grassroots workers, including mobile teams, law enforcement agencies and healthcare representatives.”
The two also discussed how to carry out a safe anti-polio drive for everyone amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“​Mr. Gates also appreciated Pakistan’s success against COVID-19 despite resource constraints,” said the statement. “The COAS attributed the success to a true national response executed through the mechanism of [National Command and Operation Center] which allowed optimization of resources.”
The American businessman reiterated the Gates Foundation’s ongoing commitment “to fight pandemics” around the world and to support Pakistan in its goals of ending polio and improving health for every child.