Pakistan's coronavirus cases rose to more than 6,300 on Wednesday, as a top minister said it is a "difficult situation" for the government which is fighting war at different fronts including COVID-19, poverty, hunger and weak economy.
"This is a difficult situation," Planning Minister Asad Umar said while addressing a news conference along with PM's aide on health Dr Zafar Mirza and adviser on national security Moeed Yusuf following a meeting of National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) here. He said besides coronavirus, the government is fighting war at different fronts including poverty, hunger and weak economy.
"It is important to find a balance between slowing the spread of the virus and ensuring lower-income people don't have to go hungry," he said, adding that the country was "passing through a difficult situation." Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday extended the lockdown till April 30, but allowed several industries to open up.
His Advisor on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said that a lower number of deaths, in comparison with the rest of the world, didn't mean the people should stop taking precautionary measures. Yusuf said all Pakistanis currently in India will be brought back to the country through Wagah border on Thursday.
All Pakistanis who are arriving from other countries will be quarantined. Those wishing to stay in hotels will have to bear their own expenses, he added.
Yusuf said that due to limited testing kits, the country's ability to test local residents will be restricted if all Pakistanis arriving from other countries are tested. This is one constraint the government is facing in bringing back people from abroad, he said. Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus patients in the country rose to 6,383, with 395 new confirmed cases and 11 deaths during the last 24 hours.
Worst-hit Punjab province reported 3,143 cases, Sindh 1,668, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 912, Balochistan 240, Gilgit-Baltistan 234, Islamabad 140 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 46.
So far, 1,446 people have recovered from the disease and 111 deaths have been reported in the country. The authorities has so far conducted 73,439 tests, including 3,380 in the last 24 hours.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar tweeted that the death toll in the province has now reached 28 and 43,565 coronavirus tests have been conducted so far.
Minister of Industries Hammad Azhar has said several sectors and industries including construction, agriculture, chemical manufacturing, e-commerce, software, paper and paper packaging, fertilisers, mines, glass industry and plant nurseries were being allowed to open. He said exporters can also become operational.
Khan, while allowing relaxation in the lockdown to allow these industries to work, warned of action if set procedures were flouted. He also announced to bring ordinance to curb smuggling and hoarding ive strict punishment to culprits.