Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said on Wednesday that preventive measures undertaken thus far by the country in its fight against Covid-19 will remain in place for two more weeks from April 1 to April 14.
He made the announcement during a joint press conference with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf.
"National Coordination Commitee (NCC) in today's meeting decided that the existing preventive measures will remain in place in the entire country for at least two more weeks," revealed Umar. He said that every province already had its own restrictions in place but that based on the NCC meeting, all provinces, besides Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB), had uniformly decided to implement these measures from this point forward.
He indicated that the NCC will hold another meeting in a few days to review these measures.
Asad Umar revealed that the government was doing all it could to ensure that industries that produced basic necessities; food and medicines etc, remained open at all cost.
"These restrictions will only yield long term results if people cooperate with social distancing measures. But we know that if people do not get rations, there is no way they will not come out on the streets and our efforts to control the virus will fail," Umar argued.
Asad Umar also said that the government was observing the trends of the spread of virus in Pakistan and revealed that the country's current trajectory indicated that restrictions had prevented further spread and deaths. "Our R-naught value, which indicates how many people one contagious person will infect on average, is on the decline. This means that some of the steps we have taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 are working," revealed Umar.
The federal minister also announced that domestic flights in the country will remain suspended until further review.
Nation must unite: Dr Mirza
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, meanwhile, urged the entire nation to unite in its fight against Covid-19. "As a nation, we should unite and strive for these measures to work even more effectively," said Mirza.
SAPM Mirza once again reminded the country of what these measures consisted of:
- Closure of schools, colleges and universities
- Banning of mass public gatherings
- Social distancing
- Voluntary home quarantining
- Complete self-isolation upon being tested positive for Covid-19
SAPM Mirza also chided public and private sector organisations that are still calling their employees to work and reminded them that non-essential work was not permissible under these measures.
Special flights to bring back stranded Pakistanis
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf revealed on Wednesday that the government had decided to allow special flights to operate from April 3 to April 11 to bring back Pakistanis stranded abroad.
"NCC has decided that, from April 4, in fact from April 3 to April 11, 17 PIA flights will be flown to different countries around the world to bring back our citizens who are either stranded or whose visas have expired. Some of these countries include Canada, United Kingdom, Turkey, Malaysia, Azerbaijan etc," stated Yusuf.
Yusuf also said that the government's greatest concern was potentially importing Covid-19 from abroad. And therefore, every Pakistani who arrives in Islamabad in these flights will be tested.
"According to our estimates, 2,000 passengers will be brought home. But we will have to review these cases on a daily basis because we will only bring people home according to our testing capacity," concluded Yusuf.