ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has eased restrictions on some industries to allow it to continue its activities, but it has extended closings in educational institutions and public meetings for two weeks to curb the spread of the corona virus.
Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the decision after he chaired a meeting of senior government officials to review the country’s closure of 220 million people, which was due to end at midnight on Tuesday.
The national number of injuries amounts to less than 6000, with about 100 deaths, but despite the relatively low number of COVID-19 cases, experts and officials have warned that the number may rise dramatically in the coming days.
Khan defended his privilege for the commercial sector, saying that the country had witnessed 70% fewer cases of the corona virus than the initial official estimate. He said that the situation is expected to remain under control due to the preventive measures taken by the government at the appropriate time.
However, the Prime Minister indicated that a month’s closure had disrupted economic activity and millions of workers lost their daily wages.
Khan said: “Every step we take in the current situation is risky because we face the challenge of the aura on the one hand and hunger on the other.”
The fragile economy, Khan said, does not allow the Pakistani government to allocate sufficient resources to feed the poorest families, or an estimated 80 million people, who were immediately affected by the restrictions.
Last week, Pakistan launched an approximately $ 1 billion emergency financial aid package, the country’s largest social protection program, to provide about $ 70 each to more than 12 million families to help reduce the economic downturn.
Khan also appealed to the international community to provide urgent relief to the heavily indebted developing countries so that they can overcome the health and economic challenges posed by the deadly halo virus.
Khan’s office said he had a phone conversation Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to follow up on the global debt relief call. “People in developing countries face a more severe choice: death from COVID-19 or from hunger,” German commander Khan was quoted as saying. COVID-19 is a disease caused by the Coruna virus.
“The prime minister stressed that the ability of developing countries to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 will depend on granting urgent debt relief, upon request, and without harsh conditions,” his office said.
Pakistan, where an estimated 40% of people live in poverty, owes more than $ 100 billion to international lenders and most of the national budget consumes debt payments.
A World Bank report last week warned that South Asian countries, including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, were on track to experience their worst economic performance in decades after the epidemic.
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