Suggestion of two-week off, two-week on lockdown not under consideration: SAPM Mirza

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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza on Wednesday has said that the suggestion of two-week off and two-week on lockdown by the World Health Organisation, is not under consideration.

In his statement, Dr Zafar Mirza said that it is not mandatory to follow the recommendations by the WHO as the special agency focuses on the pandemic only.

He said "People thought that coronavirus ended with Ramzan but the government cannot overcome the epidemic until public changes its behavior." 

"Those sectors which are shut will continue to remain so. The government takes those decisions which are beneficial for people. We have to live with coronavirus." 

"The National Command and Operation Center, established under the auspices of National Coordination Committee for Covid-19 meets every morning at ministerial level," the SAPM said. 

"A well-thought-out strategy was adopted by the government. COVID-19 cases will further increase in the upcoming days and lockdown might be implemented if situation worsens. Beds will be distributed to provinces according to their need." 

"With the help of technical experts review the disease data and trends very minutely and take a holistic view of the situation along with the provinces and develop recommendations for the NCC that is chaired by the prime minister and participated by all the Chief Ministers and the Prime Minister of AJK [Azad Jammu and Kashmir]." 

"Mask donning has been made compulsory in the country," he said, adding that, along with this, we have developed a robust tracing, testing and quarantine policy to identify hotspots and cordon-off them. Currently, there are more than 700 such smart lock-downs in place. Another plank of our strategy is ramping up of our health system capacity to cater to the growing number of patients." 

The PM's aide added that "Pakistan's choice of policies has been guided by the best evidence available about the disease spread and our best assessment of the fast deteriorating socio-economic conditions in the country." 

It is pertinent to mention here that the WHO wrote a letter to the Punjab government on Tuesday and lauded the provincial regime's efforts against the pandemic. 

WHO has recommended to the Punjab government to implement a two-week strict lockdown and two-week off, intermittently, to stem the exponential spike in novel coronavirus cases in the province.

It said that for any government that wants to lift or ease restrictions, the following six conditions must be met:

1) Disease transmission is under control.

2) Health system can "detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact". 

3) Hot spot risks are minimized in vulnerable places, such as nursing homes.

4) Schools, workplaces and other essential places have established preventive measures.

5) The risk of importing new cases "can be managed". 

6) Communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to live under a new normal.

The WHO said Pakistan does not meet any of the aforesaid conditions and suggested it to follow two-week off and two-week on strategy against deadly virus.

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