Coronavirus impact: What is Pakistan's smart lockdown plan?

Coronavirus impact: What is Pakistan's smart lockdown plan?

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that a graded lockdown is the only solution as the coronavirus will probably be around for a long time

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday announced a 'smart lockdown' in the country to help the weaker societies in Pakistan. PM Khan explained that under this areas where the outbreak has taken place, will be closed, while certain economic activities will be allowed to operate.

"Isolating these cases and their contacts will improve our ability to contain the disease alongside allowing the economy to function and people to get employment," Asad Umar, Pakistan's planning minister told Reuters. Khan during Ehsaas Telethon, an event to raise money for fight against coronavirus, said that since there is no cure to the virus, people need to live with it. Thus, a graded lockdown is required to keep the economy alive.

He insisted that a complete lockdown will affect the labour class, daily wagers and lower-middle strata of the society.

The Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP), an independent policy institution from Lahore had come up with a proposal for the said smart lockdown. The organisation suggested greater movement of freedom for young people so that the economy remains stable while the elders should be protected. It also called for a 'smart-testing', wherein high-risk persons are tested and then contacts are traced.

Pakistan has declared a lockdown in the country till May 9, yet it has not been fully implemented. While shops and businesses are closed, movements and congregations are still taking place in the country. PM Khan has said that opening up of the economy in Pakistan is easier, as the number of cases in the country has been low.

Pakistan has also allowed religious congregations during Ramadan, except for the province of Sindh, where health officials have warned that the virus could spread rapidly. As a result mosques in that region are shut down.

Pakistan like every other country is facing the 'lockdown paradox', which means either take the chance of economic slowdown by imposing a complete lockdown or open up the lockdown to save the economy, but risking the spread of the virus. While several countries have started partially lifting off restrictions in their countries, WHO has warned that rushing into it could have negative impacts.

Pakistan has reported more than 11,900 positive COVID-19 cases and 253 deaths.

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