ISLAMABAD                     -             Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiative Asad Umar Monday informed that some major decisions on coronavirus including with respect to the ongoing lockdown in the country would be taken on Tuesday (tomorrow) in a special meeting of National Command and Operation Center (NCOC).

In his daily media briefing after meeting of NCOC here, Asad Umar said the meeting would prepare recommendations for the National Coordination Committee (NCC) that would be held later in the day under the Chairmanship of the prime minister.

The NCC would make final decisions on some major issues with regard to coronavirus including lockdown. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr. Zafar Mirza was also present in the media briefing. Asad Umar further informed that normally chief secretaries of all provinces participate in the NCOC meeting, however in tomorrow’s meeting, chief ministers of all provinces and Gilgit Baltistan, and Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) would participate to ensure that all decisions were made unanimously.

“In order to support the decision on lockdown, the federal government will provide all required information to the provinces prior to the meeting”, the minister added.

With regard to the meeting held on Monday, the minister said the meeting reviewed situation of transportation, country’s economy and trade in the country.

Expressing satisfaction over the pace of spread of coronavirus, Asad Umar said the federal and provincial governments’ timely decision contributed a lot in slowing down the spread of coronavirus in the country.

“Overall the Pakistani nation has also expressed a sense of responsibility which resulted in containing spread of the pandemic,” he added.

On demands by the businessmen to open up their trade activities, the minister said if the government accepted their demand, the responsibility of maintaining good health of their employees would fall on them and no excuse would be accepted.

“This is their right to do business, but health of the employees that works under them will be responsibility of those businessmen,” he added. 

He also hinted at making legislation to bound such businessmen and industrialists to follow all preventive measures issued by the government to contain coronavirus.

He specifically thanked the district administration of all districts across the country and the federal officials working in ministries working with NCOC who were working hard to fight the pandemic.

He said it was impossible to lock all the people at their home for continuous two weeks therefore a comprehensive strategy was needed so that the spread could be slowed down and the daily routine should also not be affected to a large extent.

He said increasing testing capacity was vital to contain the virus as by testing maximum people, it would become possible to reach maximum virus carriers and by quarantining such people, the virus could be contained.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan says whole country needs to be united to take a coherent action in fight against coronavirus pandemic.

While giving a media briefing regarding meeting of National Coordination Committee in Islamabad on Monday, she said the decisions of the committee have been deferred for a day on the request of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. She said provincial chief minister sought some time before making any decision regarding opening of essential industries.

The Special Assistant said it is not time for political point scoring and rather everyone should work in tandem to synergize the efforts against the killer disease. Commenting on the press conference of CM Sindh, she said if Murad Ali Shah had reservations on the federal government decision than he should have come in NCC meeting and expressed these reservations over there and bring into notice of PM instead of media.

She said, “We are fighting against Covid-19 under the leadership of PM and adopted a clear policy in this regard as well as taking steps how to help the poor people of the country.” She said incumbent government is planning to convert lockdown into partial lockdown to open the industry step by step to provide the opportunities to labour class.

SAPM suggested Sindh government to use its full administrative powers to ensure the social distancing of people at the counters of Ehsaas Programmes during distribution of emergency cash. She said CM Sindh should avoid criticising on Ehsaas Programme because its basic aim to facilitate the needy people of the country in this difficult time.

Dr Firdous said this is not right of blame game and Pakistan Peoples’ Party leadership disowns the decisions which were taken in NCC meetings with support of Murad Ali Shah. She said PM always welcomed suggestions of CM Sindh and took decision with consensus.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the meeting of National Coordination Committee on COVID-19 and discussed the situation arising in the wake of coronavirus. The meeting reviewed progress in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the country and discussed the strategy to minimize the impact of the challenge.

Decision on opening of essential industries deferred on Sindh CM’s request