ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said Pakistan’s capabilities to deal with coronavirus gradually reduced after it spread in Iran.
“We established contact with Tehran after zaireen started pouring in from Qom,” PM Imran said while addressing a joint press conference on strategy against coronavirus along Special Assistant to PM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and Advisor to PM on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh in Islamabad.
The prime minister said no case had entered through China into the country. He said four to five percent people would require to be admitted to intensive care unit, if the disease spread in Pakistan, which would be tough for the government. He stressed on social distancing to stop spread of coronavirus.
“When the outbreak escalated in Iran, Iran itself lost the capability to deal with it. I must commend China here, when our students were stranded there, they assured us they were being taken care of like their own. And today I want to commend China that not one case came from China,” he said.
Admitted mismanagement at Iran-Pakistan border, PM Khan said there were no facilities at Taftan initially where screening could be done. We had to build facilities from scratch, equipment had to be airlifted, he said.
He said it would be wrong to point fingers at anyone, especially Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal as we knew the difficulties he went through to set it up.
“Take a look at Italy today, with their strong GDP and buying power, they are running out of doctors, out of ventilators. So I am telling the nation now; that this term social distancing is extremely important,” he said.
Self quarantine is important; take care at home. The chances of spread would decrease and we had learnt this from studying examples from the world, he maintained.
He asked media to play a responsible role. Media created sensationalisation after Mardan was quarantined, he rued. China had fought it as a nation, and we had to fight this as a nation too.
“There are two strategies in play right now. The Sindh government locking down, and then our strategy. Both of them are not too different. We know that there should be no large gatherings, but we are a step behind a total economic lockdown. And for this the reason is because our economic situation is not the same as Italy. We have daily wage earners, we have rehri walas. Do we have the system to help and access them all? Seeing the possibility of organising these logisitcs, we are telling people to self quarantine, to not go to crowded places. But we are giving an incentive to the construction industry; an unprecedented one so that the daily wage earners can keep earning. To strike a balance we will monitor large crowds, we will make full use of technology and data. But at the same time we will incentivise the construction centre.
“The other issue we are fearful of is that a complete lockdown will effect hospital staff as well. This is why we are telling people to practice discipline. If we have to get out of this, it is important that we avoid public gatherings,” he said.
Imran Khan also said the government was working on an economic package. He said the government would incentivize and protect business across the country to ensure economic activity. “A complete package will be announced on Tuesday.