Will monitor countrywide implementation of SOPs and take action against violations: PM Imran

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday warned that strict action will now be taken against those found to be violating the government’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) for curbing the spread of the coronavirus, adding that he will be monitoring the situation from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Pakistan currently ranks among the top 10 countries in the world reporting the highest number of new cases of Covid-19, according to the World Health Organisation. The international body has advised the government to enhance daily testing capacity to 50,000 to assess the actual prevalence of coronavirus across the country.
In his address to the nation about the country’s coronavirus situation, the premier detailed the steps the government will now take to address the growing number of cases.
The premier said that he will now begin receiving daily reports from the provinces regarding the implementation of SOPs.
“Today I have a report from Punjab and Sindh regarding the implementation of SOPs. These reports detail the steps taken by mosques, courts, public offices, public parks, industries, shopping malls, local and private transport.
“I will get these reports daily and on the basis of these, the administration and the Corona Relief Tiger Force will take action. When we will be informed of violations, we will close them down. The purpose of a ‘smart lockdown’ is to shut down areas where the virus spreads.”
The premier issued a warning that whether it be a shop, a mall or a factory, if they are caught flouting rules they will be closed down.
“We didn’t enforce this strictly before because we were still gathering data. But now that it is in our hands, we will take action.”
He also announced that the government is in the process of preparing a special package for healthcare workers.
“To my doctors, nurses and paramedical staff, I want to say that we know it is a difficult time, but you are doing God’s work.”
Prime Minister Imran acknowledged that the fatalities will increase but added that the death rate in Pakistan from the virus was among the world’s lowest. “Less than one per cent of patients […] these are those that are aged or have underlying conditions such as blood pressure or diabetes.
“Other than that, I want to say to my health workers that think of this as a jihad. The government is ready to extend all the necessary facilities to you and will introduce a special package.”
Further, the government will also deploy data managers at all hospitals in the country to give continuous feedback, he said. “We can’t take the right steps until the data or the information we are receiving is incorrect.”
The premier urged the public to strictly follow SOPs. “By doing this, the country can be saved from the danger of cases increasing exponentially […] we will be able to cope.
“I say this with a heavy heart that the public is showing a lot of carelessness […] this way of thinking is dangerous.”
The premier reiterated that the government expects cases to peak in July, adding that the public must now consider taking precautionary measures their “duty”.
“On behalf of my team and health workers, I urge you to think of SOPs as a duty which can save the lives of others. The lives of people suffering from blood pressure, diabetes and the elderly will be in peril if we don’t take precautionary measures.
“I will monitor this, and I am hopeful that if we begin taking precautionary measures from here on out, we can avoid a difficult situation.”
He lauded his team for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, saying he was proud of how the situation was tackled.
PM lashes out at opposition
At the onset, the prime minister lashed out at the opposition, saying it appeared they “wanted more Covid-19 deaths and the economy to fail” so that they could have a reason to criticise the government.
“The country was facing difficult times, but I felt as though they wanted to cash in on that. As coronavirus deaths are increasing, they are saying that the government’s policies are incorrect, it is confused and doesn’t know what to do.”
He said he was glad that his government didn’t succumb to the pressure, adding that the country was “saved because a complete and extended lockdown” was not enforced.

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