Pakistan cannot enforce complete lockdown: Zafar Mirza

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De facto health minister dismisses warnings from doctors, repeating government claims of it causing miseries for laborers

Dismissing calls of healthcare professionals from across Pakistan to enforce a complete lockdown in the country in a bid to curb the rapid rise in confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza on Sunday said it would only cause more misery for daily wagers and laborers.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday ruled out a complete shut down and said a total lockdown would create “unrest” like the one being witnessed in a neighbouring country.

The epidemic is still spreading despite steps by the government. The Prime Minister’s Advisor on health Dr Zafar Mirza said local transmission was increasing after government stopped all international flights.

According to Mirza, the federal government has provided thousands of addresses and names to the provinces to help them implement the “test, trace and quarantine (TTQ)” policy. “There is a need to focus more on locally transmitted cases when the share of locally transmitted cases has reached 81 percent. Provinces will track, trace and quarantine the contacts of the confirmed cases to slow the spread of the virus,” he said, adding this policy had been approved by the National Coordination Committee on COVID-19.

To another question, Mirza said the government had permitted congregational prayers in mosques—despite doctors urging the government to at least enforce a ban there—after consultation with ulema. He said precautionary steps were being taken for the safety and security of people visiting mosques to offer prayers.

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