Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs core committee meeting at his residence in Banigala, Islamabad on Sunday to discuss measures taken to combat COVID-19 in the country. Image Credit:

Dubai: Prime Minister Imran Khan has again fallen back on overseas Pakistanis for donations to combat coronavirus outbreak in the country.

He has also announced to launch ‘corona relief youth tiger force’ comprising of young volunteers to help the government provide help to deserving people in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran said that the government was fully aware of the difficulties being faced by the nationals and further steps are underway to provide relief to the people. He urged the overseas Pakistanis to donate generously to the ‘corona relief fund’ to feed the poor who are unable to earn living due to lockdowns in the provinces.

Prime Minister Imran on Sunday also held a core committee meeting at his Banigala residence in Islamabad to discuss the steps being taken to address the current COVID-19 situation with his team.

COVID-19 cases crosses 1500

According to the official figures, number of coronavirus patients in the country has risen to 1,526 at 1pm on March 29. This included 481 cases in Sindh, 558 in Punjab, 138 in Balochistan, 188 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 116 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 43 in Islamabad and two in Pakistan Administered Kashmir. The virus has so far claimed 13 lives in Pakistan while 28 patients have recovered.

Punjab province has emerged as the new epicentre of COVID-19 with the highest number of 558 cases in the country surpassing Sindh during the last three days.

No total lockdown

Imran has been against a total lockdown in the country citing the economic impact. He reasoned that the country does not have the capacity to provide for its daily wagers the way China or Italy would.

Much of Pakistan was already under lockdown as part of sweeping measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Sindh announced a 15-day lockdown from March 23 with Punjab, G-B and AJK following suit. Balochistan and K-P were under a partial lockdown with minimum movement while Section 144 was imposed in Islamabad.

Tiger force

Meanwhile, registration for the Prime Minister’s corona relief tiger force volunteer’s programme started on Sunday. The force will help the govermnet to reach out to the poor to distribute relief packages. Imran announced an economic Rs200 billion relief package last week for the poort and labourers.

Noting that one-fourth of the country’s population of over 200 million lived below the poverty line, PM Imran said there were a minimum seven million daily-wage earners who would be paid Rs3,000 each to cope with the situation in these difficult times, according to Pakistani media reports. The Corona Relief Tigers force is part of Centre’s response to fight the COVID-19 battle.

The programme will enlist people over the age of 18 through the Citizens Portal. The registered volunteers will work with the district administrations and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). They will be assigned responsibilities on a daily basis.

Ration

The volunteers will be tasked to provide ration bags and help at the quarantine centres and hospitals and arrange funerals. They will be collecting data and information about patients and help the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) enforce lockdown.

Border closure extended

Pakistan has extended closure of its Eastern and Western borders both for trade and passenger traffic for two more weeks to contain the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Security Division Moeed Yusuf said, “All passenger traffic and trade movement have been stopped at the borders with Afghanistan, Iran and India which includes Kartarpur Corridor as well.”

He added that the international flights to the country would remain suspended until April 4, reported APP.