Pak PM hints at imposing complete lockdown in coronavirus-hit cities

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Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has indicated that the federal government might impose a complete lockdown in COVID virus-hit cities and stressed the need for a smooth supply of food items during the lockdown.

The Cabinet meeting presided over by Khan decided that Iran would be asked to export oxygen to Pakistan for COVID-19 patients on a humanitarian basis, Dawn reported.

“The prime minister has directed that food supplies should be improved if we go for complete lockdown,” said information minister Fawad Chaudhry in a press conference after the weekly cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, a cabinet member told Dawn that the government feared that it would have to impose complete lockdown if the intensity of spread of coronavirus increased by 14 per cent and above.

According to the member, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi asked Imran Khan to take measures to convince Iran to lift ban on oxygen export to the extent of supplying it to Pakistan, adding that the government was also considering the import of oxygen from China.

Meanwhile, Chaudhry said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had imposed a complete lockdown in Mardan city where the positivity rate had gone up to 40 per cent.

 “The city has become a threat to the adjoining towns and cities,” he added.

He mentioned that the government had decided to announce five-day Eid holidays so that people could spend holidays in their towns and villages reducing burden on cities because the trend of spread of coronavirus was higher in urban areas as compared to rural areas.

Pakistan’s total cases of COVID-19 infection have already crossed the 800,000-mark and the death toll from the coronavirus has reached 17,530. In the last 24 hours, Pakistan has reported 201 more COVID deaths, the highest number in a single day since the pandemic broke out in the country last year, ARY News reported.

 According to the latest figures issued by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), 5,292 persons were tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, pushing the number of positive cases to 810,231.

The COVID-19 positivity rate was registered at 10.77 per cent in the same period.