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Friday Mar 20 2020
Web Desk

Coronavirus outbreak: Government not imposing lockdown, says PM Imran

Web Desk

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday addressed a press conference on the coronavirus, as new cases emerge from various parts of the country. 

The prime minister said that his government will not 'censor' anything from the masses, saying that if authorities were not transparent on cases emerging throughout the country, then it will be difficult to treat them. 

PM Imran expressed disappointment over fingers being pointed at Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan for the spread of the virus from Taftan. He said that the government had been in contact with Chinese authorities ever since the virus broke out in Wuhan late last year. 

The premier said that it will be very difficult to treat the elderly or those suffering from ailments if there was a spike in coronavirus patients. He cited the example of Italy where hospitals were running short of ventilators owing to the emergence of increasing coronavirus patients. 

The prime minister said that social distancing was "very important" to contain the virus, advising people not to go to public places. "The best thing you can do is self-qurantine instead of going to hospitals," he said. "Practice self-isolation rather than going to hospitals. Stay at home if you demonstrate symptoms and keep away from the elderly," he said. 

Do not spread panic: PM Imran warns media

PM Imran warned the media from spreading panic, saying that chaos and anarchy was an even bigger threat than the coronavirus. He said that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) will be provided guidelines to ensure news channels did not spread panic. 

He said that supermarkets in Europe were running out of products due to panic buying and warned that such a situation can take place in Pakistan as well. "No one can sit here and say what the situation of a coronavirus will be [in Pakistan] one month from now, he said. 

PM Imran said that the media had a big role to play in ensuring that news reports were handled responsibly to avoid chaos and panic.

PM Imran rules out lockdown, announces economic package

Prime Minister ruled out a complete lockdown, saying that the federal government will not do the same as the economic impact will be disastrous. 

He said that the government had shut down cinemas and barred people from gathering at public places. However, he said that the federal government was not in favour of a lockdown as its effects will prove difficult for the poor. 

PM Imran said that Italy and other countries that had imposed a lockdown could so as their per capita income was higher than Pakistan's. He said that it was important to keep the economy afloat and at the same time, keep people safe from the pandemic. 

"We have to strike a balance here," he said. "Hence, we have decided to incentivize the construction sector. Hence, we are telling people to practice self-discipline and avoid going to public places."

The prime minister said that the government was working on an economic package which will be announced on Tuesday. "We cannot compete with other countries of the world who are announcing economic packages," he said. "However, we will protect our lower and labour class against the effects of the coronavirus. This package will do so."