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Covid-19 in Pakistan: Govt finalises budget to fight coronavirus as record daily infections continue

Rs 1,000 billion reportedly dedicated to the fight against covid-19 in the 2020-21 fiscal budget to be presented next week
by TR Pakistan

The numbers: Pakistan’s total number of coronavirus cases has reached 85,264 as of Thursday noon. The virus has claimed 1,770  lives so far whereas 30,128 patients have been able to recover. The provincial breakdown of the confirmed infections underlines 31,104 cases in Punjab, 32,910 in Sindh, 11,373 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 5,224 in Balochistan. In Islamabad, the number of cases has risen to 3,544 whereas it is 824 in Gilgit Baltistan and 285 in Azad Jammu & Kashmir.

Social distancing in Pakistan: With a significant rise in cases after the month of Ramzan, the government officials have urged the public to strictly follow social distancing measures. The wearing of masks has been declared mandatory for everyone in public places like mosques, markets, and shopping malls, etc. While provincial governments maintain varying restrictions on the citizen’s movements, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr. Zafar Mirza said Pakistan has observed a 32% recovery rate in coronavirus patients and that the local transmission rate has risen to 92%, but only 25% of Pakistan’s healthcare system is engaged. In preparation for the annual budget of Pakistan 2020-21, the federal government created a draft for 7,570 billion rupees. Rs 1,000 billion of this budget is reported to have been allocated to fight coronavirus and its relief activities. The budget will be presented to the parliament on June 12.

Sindh: As Sindh reports the highest number of coronavirus cases, the provincial government denied the plan to reinstate strict lockdowns. While the closure of schools was extended beyond June 1, the public transport services reopened on June 2, but failed to follow the precautionary measures. Not only were the busses overcrowded, but the passengers and other transport staff were found without masks to protect themselves and others from the infection of coronavirus.

 Punjab: Despite being second in line with the highest number of cases, Punjab continued easing restrictions and allowed markets, shops, malls, factories, and other businesses to remain open from 9 am till 7 pm, only if they follow SOPs in place. However, a complete lockdown will be observed during the weekends and educational institutions, sporting events, parks, restaurants, salons and spas, etc are not allowed to open at all. Meanwhile, a report sent to the Punjab government maintains that there are as many as 670,000 covid-19 cases in Lahore alone.

 Balochistan: Balochistan government issued a notification saying that shops, markets, and other businesses will be allowed to open from 9 am to 7 pm, six days of the week, from Saturday to Thursday while a complete lockdown will be observed on Friday. Traveling between cities or across the province is still restricted due to the increasing rate of infections that could lead to devastating consequences for the province.

 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Provincial government also further eased the lockdown imposed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and allowed shops, markets, and businesses to remain open till 7 pm, but only five days a week from Monday to Friday. In addition to the opening of markets, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Relief and Settlement Department released a notification asking the administrative and academic staff of public universities to attend and conduct online classes on campus starting Monday. The universities opened after a two and a half month hiatus.

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