ISLAMABAD             -           The federal government on Friday decided to extend the ongoing partial lockdown for another 15 days. The decision was taken during the meeting of National Coordination Committee (NCC) chaired by the Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar while addressing a news conference after the meeting of the NCC said that the government had decided to extend the ongoing lockdown for another 15 days till May 9 to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

“The restrictions will now remain in place until May 9,” he said. The decision was taken after consultation with all the provincial governments, he added.

The Minister said the government is also making all-out efforts to enhance testing capacity to ascertain the actual number of infected people in the country. He said that the NCC was about to start the implementation of the trace and track system from today (Saturday).

“Consultations were held with Chief Secretaries and then Health Ministers at the NCOC. The Prime Minister has given approval for the system, he added.

He further said that the apex body of the NCC will oversee the trace and track system but the provincial governments, information technology institutions, civil and military organisations will be involved in the process as well. This is a complete national response formed by the government. However, the provincial governments will be primarily responsible for the implementation of the system, he added.

The Minister told media that Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed the power division to ensure that there will be no load-shedding during Iftar and Sehar timings during the holy month of Ramazan across the country. He warned people of more strict restrictions in case they act irresponsibly and do not follow precautionary measures.

The Minister said the month of Ramazan will be decisive in determining the trajectory of cases detected in the country. He urged the people to take precautions that have been recommended by doctors and added that if the public observes social distancing during the next month, the government would most likely be able to lift some restrictions by Eid-ul-Fitr. He said that if people practiced the prescribed safety precautions during the holy month, then it would allow business and other activities to inch towards normalcy.

 

“However, God forbid, if we demonstrate irresponsibility, then we may have to impose more restrictions after Eid,” he said.

 

He further said that almost half of the money allocated for Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme has been distributed among the deserving families. He said almost 50 percent families enlisted in the cash assistance programme have been covered. He further said that the relief programme will also continue throughout the holy month of Ramazan. Asad Umar said that generally, Pakistanis had made a lot of changes to their social life ever since the lockdown was imposed.

 

Earlier, PM Imran Khan chaired meeting of the NCC. Federal minister, SAPM on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza, Dr. Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Information, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Dr. Moeed Yousuf, Chairman NDMA and focal person on COVID-19, Dr. Faisal Sultan attended the meeting. Provincial chief ministers, CM GB, and PM AJK participated in the meeting through video link.

 

Speaking on the occasion, PM underlined the need to create a balance between the precautionary measures and economic activities. He said poverty and sufferings of poor segment of society is considered whenever a strategy to cope with COVID-19 is formulated.

 

He said the government has agreed to a 20-point agreement with Ulema of the country to devise a workable SOP during the month of Ramazan.

 

 

Partial lockdown in country extended for two weeks