Tally rising as Govt aims at virus, huger together

-Asad Umar says ground realities taken into account while arriving at lockdown decision
-Virus count escalates over 6,297 with 1,446 recoveries

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Wednesday said that they were struggling with both COVID-19 and hunger at the same time, media reported. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Asad Umar said that the government was making all-out efforts to contain the spread of the virus. He maintained that people’s health was the top priority of the incumbent government.
The minister said that timely decision of the government to open the construction, horticulture and dry cleaner sectors would help mitigate sufferings of labour community.
He said the government is well aware of the genuine needs of the low income group and keeping in view the present crisis, there is dire need to open up construction industry, and other small business sectors.
Read More: Govt making all-out efforts to provide relief to masses amid coronavirus pandemic: PM Imran
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said the federal government was making every possible effort to provide relief to the people in these testing times amid the pandemic.
Talking to PTI’s Central Vice President and Parliamentary leader of the Party in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh, who called on him in Islamabad, PM Imran had said that together we will fight against the deadly virus.
He had said that the Ehsaas Cash Emergency program was being run in the most transparent manner and on merit whilst rising above political affiliations.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said Wednesday decisions regarding the coronavirus were being taken after considering ground realities and 210 million people.Outlining the need for a balance between containing the coronavirus from spreading and also ensuring economic activity across the country does not come to a halt, Umar said that it was important to keep in mind those who were facing hardships due to the lockdown. “We are trying to present the facts in front of you [masses] with honesty,” he said. “We have to take decisions for the betterment of 210 million people,” he added. The minister said that the prime minister was particularly concerned about the thelawalas, tailors, workers, labourers and other daily wagers who were bearing the brunt of the lockdown.
He said that there were concerns among the masses regarding the lockdown but facts had to be taken according to the situation. “Decisions are taken keeping in mind the facts on the ground,” he said, adding that people should not compare other countries with Pakistan as the situation regarding the coronavirus was different in each country. “If you give me the responsibility to make decisions for Germany and Pakistan [about coronavirus], I’ll take different decisions,” he said. “Me, one person, will take two different decisions. This is because the situation on the ground in the two countries is quite different,” he added. Umar said that the basic direction of the country should be the same. He said that chief ministers of all provinces and other stakeholders take part in the National Coordination Committee meetings and present their recommendations.
“The direction we take should be the same and decisions should be taken with consultation,” he said. “It is my opinion that provinces and even district administrations should be allowed flexibility to take decisions according to the situation,” he added. The minister said that once the pandemic was over, people can argue with one another about which steps taken by the government were correct and which were not. “For the time being, the need of the hour is that we battle this global problem with unity and let me tell you that it is happening to a great extent,” he added. Umar said that Rs35bn have been given to more than 2.8 million people according to the Ehsaas Programme. CM Sindh urges federal, provincial govts to get on the same pageEarlier today, Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah had once again called for the provincial and federal governments to get on the same page to tackle challenges arising out of the coronavirus epidemic in the country.
“During our meeting with the federal government yesterday, we asked for a uniform policy to deal with the situation,” Shah had said while addressing a press conference in Karachi. “It was decided in yesterday’s meeting that the lockdown in the country would be extended for 14 days. All the provinces were unanimous in the decision that the lockdown should be extended” he had said. The chief minister added that there were some issues, however, that the provinces and the federal government did not agree on.
“Some provinces and the federal government agreed that some essential workplaces should reopen. We did not agree to open shops for barbers, plumbers, electricians etc,” he said. The total number of COVID-19 cases reached 6,250 in Pakistan after the emergence of 151 cases during the last 24 hours, according to the latest statistics released by the National Command and Operation Centre.
According to the national dashboard, the medical facilities have conducted 3,280 tests during last 24 hours while the total number of COVID-19 tests stands at 69,928. At least 11 deaths were reported till Wednesday morning, taking the toll to 107 and the number of recovered patients is 1,466. Punjab has the highest figure of coronavirus cases up to 2,945 followed by Sindh with 1,518 cases. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has 865 patients, 234 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), 240 in Balochistan, 140 in Islamabad and 43 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).