Pakistan government seeks army help to curb coronavirus outbreak

Islamabad, Apr 23 (EFE).- Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday ruled out a nationwide lockdown for the time being but sought the army’s help in enforcing anti-coronavirus rules, including the use of face masks and implementing social distancing measures.

“I have asked the Pakistan army to accompany our law enforcement and police to implement standard operating procedures,” Khan said in a televised speech.

The country recorded its highest daily coronavirus figures of 5,870 infections and 144 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The figures are far less than reported in other countries, but the weak healthcare system in Pakistan faces the risk of collapsing under the weight of the second wave of the virus outbreak.

According to authorities, health facilities in the country have reached 90 percent of their oxygen capacity.

The prime minister warned that the government might impose a nationwide lockdown that would be devastating for the economy if people do not take precautions.

“We are facing a huge danger. If we keep doing the same we will have to impose lockdown,” Khan said.

The cricketer-turned-politician cited an example of neighboring India that recorded the world’s highest daily infections Friday with over 330,000 cases and more than 2,200 deaths.

The prime minister said the government was doing everything possible to speed up the slowly progressing inoculation drive.

Of the country’s 220 million people, only 1.6 have received their vaccination shots.

Health Minister Faisal Sultan said during the first coronavirus wave, a maximum of 3,500 patients were in intensive care unit wards ICU at the same time.

The figure is now 4,500 as the second wave has tightened its grip on the country.

The government also decided to tighten the restrictions already in force.

Schools will close in areas with a positivity rate of 5 percent until the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Markets will close at 6 pm daily.

Offices will function with only half of the staff and will close at 2 in the afternoon.

The country has 784,108 infections and 16,842 deaths due to the virus since the pandemic began last year. EFE


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