LAHORE - Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shibli Faraz, on Saturday, has stressed on the need for a collective response to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

Talking to a private news channel, he asked the opposition parties including Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to avoid doing politics over the issue of COVID-19.

The Minister said that the relief packages announced by the Federal government were for the whole country rather any specific province or area.

He said that the deserving families from across the country including Sindh were getting an amount of Rs.12,000 each,  in a transparent manner under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

Shibli Faraz said that the government had given the concept of smart lockdown keeping in view the difficulties of the daily wagers and labourers from the impacts of Coronavirus as our country was not in a position to afford a complete lockdown due to its economic situation.

The Minister said the Federal government handled the issue of COVID-19 better than many other countries despite a lot of chal lenges including the economic one. Replying lenges including the economic one. Replying to a question, Shibli Faraz said improvement in health sector was the responsibility of the provincial governments after the passing of 18th Amendment. The minister said that a massive 1.2 trillion-rupee relief package announced by the Federal government would be equally distributed among all provinces, including Sindh, without any discrimination.  In a statement today, he said Rs. 27 billion had, so far, been distributed in Sindh under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme. The Minister said the federal government had provided relief to 45,000 consumers of Sindh Industrial Sector and seven hundred thousand consumers of commercial sectors in electricity bills. He said the federal government had provided 504,447 face masks, 290,986 surgical masks, 30,142 N-95 masks, 203,840 KN-95 masks and 148,334 protective suits to Sindh Government.  He said items provided to the province also included 77,992 testing kits, 200 thermal guns, 25,000 VTM and PCR machines. The Information Minister said that the federal government had sent a large number of hand sanitizers, hand washes, chemical sprays, bio-hazard bags, safety boxes and body bags to the province.

Shibli Faraz urged the opposition to avoid politicizing the prevailing situation of Coronavirus and join hands with the government in its efforts to contain the pandemic.