Pakistan says no more lockdown despite surging cases

Islamabad: Despite rapidly increasing coronavirus cases in the country, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday announced that no lockdown will be reimposed.

“Unfortunately, the [previous] lockdown has already hit the poor people. We no longer can afford that,” Khan told a new conference in the capital Islamabad after the meeting of the National Coordination Committee — a body that monitors the coronavirus situation in the country, the Dawn reported.

“Therefore, except for a few sectors, all other sectors will stay open,” Khan said, without specifying the sectors that will remain closed. ” We have to save our people from coronavirus and hunger simultaneously.”

The development came days after health experts warned of a spike in number of COVID-19 cases across the country following the lifting of two-months nationwide lockdown late May.

“Coronavirus is going nowhere, at least this year. That means we have to live with it following safety guidelines,” Khan said.

The tax collection in Pakistan, the premier said, has reduced 30%, in addition to deceasing foreign and local investment due to the lockdown.

Khan also ordered the aviation authorities to accelerate the process of bringing back thousands of Pakistanis stranded in different countries due to the suspension of international flights, mainly in the Gulf states, due to the pandemic.

Last week, the government lifted a prolonged ban on international flights in order to bring back stranded Pakistanis.

On Monday, an Emirates Airlines flight carrying 370 Pakistanis from the United Arab Emirates arrived in Pakistan.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan have reached 72,460 with 1,543 deaths so far.

The country has recorded 293 deaths in the past four days with over 11,000 new cases.

According to official statistics, the southern Sindh province tops the tally with 28,245 cases, followed by the northeastern Punjab where 26,240 people have so far been infected with the virus.

Some 26,083 patients have recovered.

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