Pakistan's situation was relatively "better" than the other countries hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Thursday, APA reports citing The International News.
PM Imran said the real number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan is less than the projected one as of April 30. "We imposed a lockdown when we had 26 cases and the public also cooperated with us.
"When you compare Pakistan to other countries, then our situation is much better. We were assuming that our hospitals would be full by now but then our situation is much better," he said.
The premier said he spoke to Hassan Rouhani and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Iranian and Egyptian presidents, respectively.
"Iran has now decided to close large gatherings such as weddings and schools and open up all businesses," the PM said. "They also fear that their losses due to unemployment are bigger than that from the coronavirus."
The Cairo leadership, he said, "decided on the first day to lock down large gatherings but they tried to make sure the construction sector remained working".
"Egypt's and our tally is the same and their economic condition is similar to ours. Our lockdown was much stricter than them but the deaths remained the same.
"We decided to share both our experiences in the future," PM Imran added, noting that his team of ministers knew that daily wagers, labourers, waiters, and taxi drivers would be the "worst-affected" of all.
"I would like to congratulate Dr Sania [Nishtar] for the Ehsaas [Emergency Cash] programme. It is a proud moment for us."
The prime minister explained that the money disbursed to deserving people was based on relevant data and not political affiliations. Sindh, he noted, received the highest number of payments under the Ehsaas programme.
"I was very happy to see that the lowest strata of society could get the money. We have so far distributed Rs81 billion," he said.
"The second programme we are starting... I had decided to keep the money [that was] gathered from the relief fund for the unemployed," he added, noting that an SMS campaign would be launched soon and that the new project to support people out of jobs would require proof of unemployment — a plan the government was working on.
"For every rupee donated, the government will match it with Rs4 in the fund," the premier said, adding that the 'Corona Relief Tigers Force' had been informed to set up a desk in each union council to check who has been unemployed.
"There are many white-collar workers who have been unemployed and who will not come forward," he said. "We will use the Imams of mosques to know who the unemployed people are.
PM Imran said his focal person on coronavirus, Dr Faisal Sultan, was tasked to coordinate with the doctors and provinces, explaining that "our policy is made on the analysis they share" and the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) took that into account before moving ahead.
He said he recently learnt that different Pakistani industries had started making ventilators at a very cheap price. "We are thinking of exporting those items," he said.