A man sleeps on a bench on a street in Rawalpindi
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has ruled out the return to a strict shutdown to stem the spread of coronavirus, saying the “elitist” idea would collapse the economy and increase poverty even as the Covid-19 cases in the country on Sunday inched closure to the 100,000-mark while the death toll rose to over 2,000.
A record 4,960 fresh coronavirus cases were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 98,943, according to the Ministry of National Health Services.
With 67 more fatalities due to Covid-19, the death toll jumped to 2,002 in the country.
The Health Ministry said that on the positive side, at least 33,465 patients have fully recovered so far.
So far 37,090 cases have been reported in Punjab, 36,364 in Sindh, 13,001 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 6,221 in Balochistan, 4,979 in Islamabad, 927 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 361 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Amid the spike in coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Khan on Saturday called for creating awareness among the masses regarding the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for strict observance of the standard operating procedures (SOPs), the Express Tribune reported.
Khan again ruled out the return to a strict lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus, stressing that the “elitist” idea would cause the economy to collapse and increase poverty. Instead, he insisted on a “smart lockdown” with strict adherence to the SOPs.
“And some of our elite, wanting a lockdown - the elite who have the privilege of spacious homes and income unaffected by fallout of lockdown,” he said in a series of tweets.
“A lockdown means collapse of the economy and in poorer countries a steep rise in poverty, crushing the poor as happened in Modi's lockdown in India,” the prime minister added.
“Only solution as world has discovered is smart lockdown which allows for economic activity with SOPs. We are amongst pioneers of this approach. I appeal to civil society, media, Ulema and our tiger force to create awareness amongst the public of Covid-19's severity and the need to strictly observe SOPs,” he tweeted.
Earlier this week, the prime minister ordered reopening of more sectors of the economy as part of easing the lockdown in order save people's livelihood, particularly the daily-wage workers. However, since then there is a spurt in new cases.