Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the parliamentarians during a virtual meeting in Islamabad on Monday. Image Credit:

Dubai: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced to gradually ease the lockdown in coming days due to economic meltdown in the country.

“It is very important to open businesses because the poor people especially the daily wagers are suffering,” Prime Minister Imran said while talking to the members of National and Provincial Assemblies in Islamabad on Monday. He noted that most of the issues being faced by the country was because of the lockdown. “This lockdown has affected the daily wagers and labours the most,” he added. Pakistan had earlier extended the lockdown until May 9 while the international flights will remain suspended until May 15.

SOPs for businesses

The Prime Minister said SOPs based on safety measures have been prepared for all the sectors and the elected representatives should play their role for implementation on them.

He said that the government is striving to provide every possible relief to the masses amid the challenge posed by coronavirus. Despite difficult situation, the government has given an economic package worth Rs1. 25 trillion rupees to various segments of society including businesses, industries and the masses.

He said the deserving families are being provided with cash assistance of Rs12000 per family in the most transparent manner and on merit.

462 deaths

His remarks to ease the lockdown came despite the fact that number of coronavirus cases in the country is on the rise. As the total tally has jumped to 20,186 on Monday, some 1,083 fresh cases have been reported during last 24 hours. The number of deaths has risen to 462 while 5598 patients have recovered till May 3.

Tiger Force launched

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran also announced to make operational its Corona Relief Tiger Force to fight coronavirus. More than half a million youngsters have registered for the Tiger Force which is a voluntary organisation formed by Prime Minister Imran to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak in the country. The force will mainly be used to help provide relief to the needy people across the country.

Duties

The main duties of Tiger Force are to facilitate the functioning of utility stores, implement SOPs at mosques, help in the management of isolation and quarantine centres, identify hoarders, profiteers and the deserving people in their locality and distribution of ration, reported Geo TV.

During a parliamentary committee session, the premier directed all party leaders to mobilise the relief force in their constituencies.

He also Imran also directed the provincial, top-level bureaucracy and administration to assist the Tiger Force in implementing government guidelines.

“It is the best opportunity for the public representatives to sever their people,” Prime Minister Imran said. “The current situation demands that we forget our differences and serve our nation.”

Huge challenge

“I decided on the force because Pakistan is facing a huge challenge right now. The reason behind this force is to help those who are in need,” Imran explained. The administration alone cannot handle the situation hence we needed a volunteer force, he added.

The volunteers would also be given training on security, quarantine, relief, health and awareness and duties would be assigned as per qualification and age. A code of conduct has also been issued for the volunteers.

17,000 medical volunteers

Prime Minister Imran also outlined the role of the Tiger Force, stating that the volunteer force is required to strike a balance between saving people from the virus and saving them from hunger and unemployment.

“Volunteers will have to register all those that have lost their jobs due to the lockdown at their respective union councils. Not everyone can register themselves so that is where the force will come in.”

He added that volunteers will also monitor the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme and give the Centre feedback. “If you see hoarding anywhere, don’t take action yourself but tell the administration. They will take action,” he added.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said that 17,000 of the people who had volunteered for the Corona Relief Tiger Force belonged to the medical community, reported Dawn news

Speaking alongside Prime Minister Imran Khan during his address to the Tiger Force, Dr Mirza said: “No one really knows how long this disease will last.”

He added that medical professionals will be given specific roles so that they can help the government in implementing standard operating procedures.

“Doctors will also volunteer for telehealth initiatives so that they can give advice to patients over the phone,” he said.