Pakistan extends lockdown for 15 days till May 9 as Ramzan begins

HYDERABAD: Police official requesting an elderly person to offer prayer at home outside Haji Baba Hayat Jama Masjid as Sindh Government ban congregational prayer (Friday Prayers) for precautionary measures to prevent corona virus outbreak, Pakistan. INP PHOTO by Yasir Rajput. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

ISLAMABAD, Apr 25, 2020, Pakistan Today. As the holy month of Ramzan begins on Saturday, the federal government on Friday decided to extend the lockdown for another 15 days till May 9, amid warnings that the next two weeks could see an exponential increase in the COVID-19 infection, Pakistan Today reported.

The decision was also endorsed by the Pakistani military establishment, which said that a ‘smart lockdown, and testing, tracing and quarantining’ will drive the government’s efforts against COVID-19.

At least 11,562 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus across the country so far. Punjab has 4,851 cases. Sindh has 3,945 cases, Khyber Pakthunkhwa (KP) 1,541 cases, Balochistan 656 cases, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) 300 cases, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 214 cases, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) 55 cases. 2,527 people have completely recovered so far whereas 244 have lost their lives due to the virus.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Friday told a press conference after a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) that the decision was taken to launch a decisive battle against the pandemic.

He said that the NCOC was about to start the implementation of the trace and track system from Saturday after the prime minister’s approval. “Consultations were held with chief secretaries and then health ministers at the NCOC.”

“This is a complete national response formed by the government,” he said, though adding that the provincial governments will be responsible mainly for the implementation of the system.

He said the government is also making all-out efforts to enhance testing capacity to ascertain the actual number of infected people in the country. “If people act irresponsibly and do not follow precautionary measures, then we will be compelled to impose more restrictions by the end of Ramzan,” he warned.

He said that generally, Pakistanis had made a lot of changes to their social life during the past month ever since the lockdown was imposed. “We are trying to predict what this infection’s spread will be through consultations will data scientists and experts,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed the power division to ensure that there will be no load-shedding during Iftar and Sehar timings during the holy month of Ramzan across the country, said the minister.

Umar said almost half of the money allocated for the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme has been distributed among the underprivileged. The relief scheme will continue throughout Ramzan, he added.


Meanwhile, Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Babar Iftikhar also endorsed the idea of targetted lockdown.

The statement came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan said that imposition of ‘balanced and smart lockdown’ on the pattern of western countries would be an effective and viable option.

“We will have a targeted lockdown only for virus hotspots and clusters,” Gen Iftikhar said in presser after a meeting at the General Headquarters to overview the coronavirus situation.

He said that the army will help the civilian administration in tackling the virus and its subsequent fallout in addition to ensuring border security and carrying out routine activities as per schedule.

Thanking medics and all those people working to keep the economy going, he urged people to keep themselves restricted and protect themselves from the pandemic. “Next 15 days are crucial. Make your homes your places of worship.”

He also shared that all medical staff from the army’s medical corps had been summoned to help with relief efforts while the army’s five testing laboratories were working to supplement the National Institute of Health’s testing capacity.

“All resources of Pakistan Army are being used on the order of the government to tackle the pandemic. Resource allocation is being altered due to changing the situation. Under the new strategy, we are taking resources to provincial, district, and union council levels,” he said.

“Process of delivering more than 350,000 ration packs is ongoing. These were purchased from the funds gathered through salaries of Pakistan Army employees. Soldiers have also decided not to take internal security allowance to help with virus relief,” he said.


Meanwhile, government leaders have urged masses to ensure social distancing to curb the spread of the virus while allowing business activities and some religious congregations to continue.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar while wishing people on the start of the holy month said that the country was “expecting people to maintain social distancing”. In a post on Twitter, Buzdar urged people to “prioritise praying at home in Ramzan”.

Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab expressed the hope that people would observe Ramzan by “protecting the people around them from coronavirus”.

Spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government Ajmal Wazir urged the public, religious scholars and other quarters to abide by the precautionary measures laid down by the administration in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced late on Thursday night that the evening Taraweeh prayers during Ramzan will be restricted to 3-5 persons and the rest of the people will have to offer the prayers at home.

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