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‘Smart lockdown’ strategy has helped balance life and livelihood, PM Imran told at NCOC briefing

Prime Minister Imran Khan was informed on Saturday that the government’s strategy of imposing ‘smart lockdowns‘ to curb the spread of the coronavirus has helped balance the lives of citizens with their livelihoods.

The premier was briefed about the prevailing situation and analysis of the pattern of Covid-19’s spread in the country during a visit to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) in Islamabad.

Federal ministers, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and other high-ranking officials were present on the occasion as the government marked 100 days of the establishment of the NCOC. The provinces were also represented via video link.

At the briefing, the premier was informed that the government’s decision to opt for smart lockdowns — imposed only in virus hotspots — instead of sweeping countrywide restrictions has helped in “keeping the economy afloat” and addressing the problems of the poor and the working class while containing the disease, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Related: Lockdown: ‘Total’ to ‘smart’

It was highlighted that as per the International Monetary Fund’s flagship World Economic Outlook, Pakistan has “reversed” the projected GDP downturn from -1.5 per cent to -0.4pc. From July 19 to May 20, Pakistan’s exports fared much better than those of other countries in the region, the prime minister was informed.

Prime Minister Imran lauded the efforts of the NCOC team in putting up “a robust response” to the pandemic and ensuring coordination throughout the country. He noted that the NCOC has “led from the front” in the fight against the virus through daily monitoring of the situation, capacity enhancement of the health system, establishing a credible database, ensuring better resource management and formulation of appropriate SOPs.

“The prime minister appreciated the resilience and adaptability of the nation to adjust to the new normal by following SOPs and face the challenge as one nation,” the press release said, adding that he also paid tribute to the doctors, para-medical staff and emergency responders working on the frontlines of the Covid-19 battle.

While noting a “slowing down of disease progression”, the prime minister directed officials to ensure strict implementation of the standard operating procedures and undertake all required administrative actions to implement the strategy of smart lockdowns. He also instructed them to continue a mass awareness campaign to curtail the spread of the virus and especially prevent a resurgence of the disease during Eidul Azha.

The prime minister also acknowledged the efforts of healthcare workers and management teams from all the provinces, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, according to the PM Office handout

Despite rising cases of infection, Prime Minister Imran has defended his government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, dismissing the opposition’s criticism of “confusion” and contradictions in official policies.

“If there was one country whose government did not have confusion, it was ours,” he said while speaking in the parliament last month.

After reporting its first cases on February 26, Pakistan has so far officially registered nearly 227,000 infections of Covid-19 and 4,661 deaths. Of those infected, more than 125,000 have recovered.

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