Cases 123,155, recovered 38,391, deaths 2,407,
Sindh 46,828, Punjab 45,463, KPK 15,787,
Balochistan 7,335, Islamabad 6,236, GB 1018, AJK 488
Nation special report
KARACHI: The World Health Organization has urged
Pakistani authorities to re-impose “intermittent lockdowns” of targeted areas
to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, stating the country did not meet
the global body’s conditions for lifting restrictions.
A surge of new cases has hit the South Asian nation after the government lifted its lockdown on May 9 citing economic pressures. A total of 123,155 cases, 2,407 deaths and 38,391 recovered have been recorded till Thursday (June 11).
In letters sent by the WHO on June 7 to
health authorities of Pakistan’s two most populous provinces, Punjab and Sindh,
it stressed the need to mitigate the risk of the health system collapsing. More
than one in five people have tested positive for COVID-19 over the last two
weeks, compared with one in 10 before the lockdown was lifted, government
“WHO strongly recommends the government adapt the two weeks off and two weeks on strategy,” said the letter signed by WHO’s Head of Mission in Pakistan Dr. Palitha Mahipala.
It was not immediately clear if the same advice was also sent to other provinces or the federal government. The letter said the WHO recommends six conditions for lifting restrictions, including the disease transmission being “under control,” being able to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact, essential places having established preventive measures, and communities being educated, engaged and empowered to “live under a new normal.”
Pakistan, the letter said, met none of the conditions. Punjab and Sindh authorities both endorsed the WHO’s concerns and said the provincial cabinets would discuss the recommendations.
It is “extremely important” to develop capacity to conduct beyond 50,000 tests daily, the letter stated. Pakistan, a country of over 207 million people, has tested a maximum of 24,000 people daily.
Imran Khan’s offer
Prime Minister Imran Khan has offered help to neighbouring India to help it overcome the coronavirus crisis, saying he was willing to share Pakistan’s successful Ehsaas Programme, which is a cash-transfer programme for the needy.
Sharing a news report claiming that 34% of household across India ‘will not be able to survive more than a week without add (additional) assistance’’, the prime minister said, “I am ready to offer help and share our successful cash transfer prog, lauded internationally for its reach and transparency, with India”.
Describing the programme in another tweet, the prime minister said the Pakistani government had successfully transferred more than Rs100 billion to 10 million families. “Our govt successfully transferred Rs120 billion in 9 weeks to over 10 million families in a transparent manner to deal with the COVID19 fallout on the poor.”
In April, the Pakistani government started distributing coronavirus relief funds to the needy, a much-awaited step by the affectees of the lockdown which was then imposed to curb the spread of the virus.