Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday made his first public statement on the coronavirus pandemic, telling the nation that he is “personally overseeing measures” to deal with the disease.
His statement came as Pakistan’s tally of coronavirus cases rose to 33 on Saturday evening. The increase of five cases came as Sindh and Balochistan reported two new cases each while the first case in Islamabad was confirmed in a woman who arrived from the United States.
Taking to Twitter, the premier advised the public to follow safety instructions issued by the government regarding COVID-19.
“While there is a need for caution, there is no need for panic,” he wrote, announcing that he will address the nation on the issue “soon”.
The prime minister said the government remains alert to the dangers posed by the virus and has “put in place sufficient protocols for the safety and health of our people”.
“The WHO (World Health Organisation) has commended our efforts as being amongst the best in the world,” he noted.
On Friday, WHO Pakistan chief Dr Palitha Mahipala had said that Pakistan had formulated “one of world’s best national response programmes” against the coronavirus pandemic.
“Pakistan has timely come up with one of the world’s best National Response Programmes against COVID-19 and it is being implemented very effectively. Authorities are doing their job and now it is the responsibility of the people to follow the instructions,” The News quoted him as saying.
The prime minister’s remarks come a day after the National Security Committee (NSC) unveiled a national strategy for curbing the spread of novel coronavirus in Pakistan by restricting points of entry into the country and banning public gatherings.
The NSC, which is the highest forum for coordination on security issues, at its first-ever meeting on a health crisis decided to seal borders with Iran and Afghanistan, restrict international operations of airlines to three airports, shut down educational institutions, cinemas, theatres and marriage halls, and advised adjournment of civil cases in courts and change in hearing procedures for criminal cases.
I want to inform the nation I am personally overseeing measures to deal with COVID 19 & will address the nation soon. I would advise people to follow safety instructions issued by our govt. While there is a need for caution there is no need for panic.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 14, 2020