ISLAMABAD: A day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Thursday asked the government to enforce health emergency and gear up efforts to check the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Talking to reporters at the Parliament House building, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and PPP leader Rehman Malik urged the government to act before it was too late and suggested that all schools, colleges and universities across the country should be closed and there should also be a complete ban on all major sports activities, including cricket matches till March 31. He was of the view that the rest of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches should be cancelled in view of the grave threat.
He said Section 144 should be imposed to ban gathering of more than 10 persons and sessions of the Senate, National Assembly and provincial assemblies should also not be held till March 31.
Senator Malik said the blame game between the provinces and the Centre on the issue must stop as there was a need to counter coronavirus with a responsible attitude.
“I feel sorry to note immature statements both from the federal government and provincial governments,” he said, adding that they must rise above politics and formulate a national action plan to combat the pandemic.
He said it was alarming that the number of coronavirus had surged in days to 21 and said immediate steps must be taken to prevent further increase.
Senator Malik asked could anybody justify the big risk of the outbreak with the entry of 7,500 suspects from Iran to Pakistan. He said the government must not play with the health of people but find ways and means to stop the spread of COVID-19. “We are handling coronavirus carelessly and not according to international standards,” he added.
Senator Rehman asked where was the national action plan on coronavirus that he had proposed in an emergency meeting when the government was asked to give its outline of the plan. Why it had not yet been implemented by the federal and provincial governments? he asked. He said the state had to wake up to save its people.
He asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to allocate five billion rupees for effective precautionary measures.
Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2020