Imran vows tough stance toward violators of COVID-19 measures

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has reiterated his government’s tough stance against violators of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country amid a recent surge in the number of new cases.

Addressing the nation in a televised speech on Thursday, Khan said the government would take strict actions against those who are violating the SOPs as the government feared that the number of confirmed cases and deaths of COVID-19 would further rise in the coming days and likely to hit its peak at the end of July or early August, reports Xinhua news agency.

Pakistan has witnessed a sharp rise in the number of confirmed cases since the government lifted a weeks-long lockdown across the country last month, saying that 25 per cent of the country’s total population was facing harsh financial constraints due to lockdown.

The premier said his government is working day and night untiringly to control the spread of the virus as well as to provide the best facilities to the needy and poor people, increasing laboratories capable to test the disease to 107 with ability to conduct 1.2 million tests per month.

A government survey released on Thursday said that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought multifaceted challenges for Pakistan to preserve the economic gains achieved previously, saying that the rapid spread of the disease in the country “has brought economic activity to near-halt”.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization recommended Pakistan to adopt a “two weeks off and two weeks on” lockdown strategy to slow down the current fast spread of epidemic, but Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza said that the government has to make tough policy choices to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods.

The country’s top health official added that the government is focused on enforcement of SOPs in shops, mosques and public transport and other crowded areas while easing lockdown restrictions.

So far, Pakistan has registered 125,933 COVID-19 cases, with 2,463 deaths.