Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that reports circulating on social media that the coronavirus will not affect Pakistanis were false, cautioning that the disease will not spare anyone.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Prime Minister's Corona Relief Fund in Lahore, he said: "I read often on social media that Allah has created Pakistanis in a way that corona won't affect them. Please don't delude yourselves into thinking like this. Corona won't spare anyone."
The premier asked people to not be "foolish" and advised them to take the necessary precautions against Covid-19.
"If you think you are immune, just look at New York. Many rich people live there [but] look at their condition now."
The premier said that the coronavirus was a two-fold challenge — the government needed to curb its spread while balancing it with helping the weaker sections of society. He added that the government team sat every day and pondered over which industries could be reopened so the economy could be kept running. He reassured the nation that he would not let "our workers starve".
Calling the Covid-19 pandemic a "very big challenge", he said that the nation would come out of it stronger.
Talking about efforts to deal with the crisis, the premier said that the government had given the "most expansive stimulus package in the country's history". He revealed that some 600,000 people had joined the Corona Tigers Relief Force set up to assist the government's relief efforts.
Referring to criticism of the government's response to Covid-19, the premier said the opposition could "only criticise as they have never done social work".
He announced that the government aimed for a direct cash-transfer programme and will launch a Facebook page next week to coordinate charity drives.
'Do not consider projections on case numbers the last word'
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza asked the public not to consider projections about the rise of Covid-19 cases being made by experts "the last word", saying they are only estimates.
"At this stage, it is uncertain whether these figures based on different scenarios and assumptions are true or not," he said, adding that the government is keeping a close eye on the evolving situation.
He was apparently alluding to a report submitted by the government to the Supreme Court in which Covid-19 cases in Pakistan are projected to rise sharply over the next 20 days.
During his daily press briefing, the SAPM also said that a large number of hand sanitisers being sold across the country were of "low quality".
"For sanitisers to be effective against viruses, they should have 70 per cent alcohol content while this is not the case with many products being sold," he said.
Mirza also stressed the need to rationally use PPEs (personal protective equipment). He said such equipment including N95 masks should be used only by frontline healthcare workers.