Pakistan to ease lockdown restrictions gradually: PM Imran
ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday said as the government, in order to lessen the financial difficulties faced by people due to lockdown, was set to gradually ease restrictions, the volunteer Corona Relief Tiger Force would help ensure implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in every field of life.
“The objective of easing restrictions is to assist the people affected badly by the lockdown and have lost their jobs. But if we did not follow SOPs the situation of coronavirus in the virus, which has come to a bit level, would turn very bad,” he said while addressing the Corona Relief Tiger Force volunteers here.
Special Assistant to the PM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar, Special Assistant to PM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and Utility Stores Corporation Chairman Zulqurnain Ali Khan also spoke on the occasion.
The prime minister said since the purpose of creating Corona Relief Tiger Force was to help the people in the difficult situation, they should play their role in creating public awareness about the dangers of COVID-19 and guide them about the SOPs, including social distancing in mosques, shops, factories, etc.
He said the biggest challenge in this difficult situation was to create balance in a way that the people could be saved from COVID-19 and the wheels of the economy could also be run again by easing lockdown restrictions.
The prime minister told the Tiger Force members that as they were volunteers, they would not be getting any salaries or benefits and would be doing a `Jihad’ by working in aid of the district administration and supplementing their efforts.
He said the Corona Relief Tiger Force, besides creating awareness among the public about the COVID-19, would also help the people, unemployed due to the coronavirus lockdown, in getting registered at the Ehsaas Web Portal https://ehsaaslabour.nadra.gov.pk/ through special digital desks being set up at the union council levels.
The registered unemployed people, after filtration of their credentials from the Ehsaas database, would be provided with the cash assistance, he added.
The prime minister urged the Tiger Force volunteers to also keep an eye on those engaged in hoarding particularly of food items and if they found any such activity, provide information to the district administration for further action.
“You don’t have to take any action against anyone on your own. You have to inform the administration,” he said and added that as hoarding was illegal and pushed price-hike, it was the duty of the administration to check such activities.
He also asked the volunteer Tiger Force to keep visiting the Utility Stores across the country to ensure social distancing and also have a check on the availability of essential items at the USC outlets as well as their working.
Recalling the creation of a tiger force by him during his cricket era for raising funds for the construction of Shaukat Khanam cancer hospital, the prime minister said the force had contributed a lot in the establishment of the cancer hospital, which was still providing free of charge treatment to 75% of cancer patients.
The prime minister also urged the people from District Administration to co-opt the Corona Relief Tiger Force and take along by encouraging them in their voluntary services.
The SAPM on Youth Affairs said the Corona Relief Tiger Force of one million volunteers would work under the direct supervision of Prime Minister Office and in coordination with the district administration.
He said all the volunteers would be provided with digital codes and a special mobile application for the assignment of their duties in different areas and fields as per requirement by the district administration.
Sharing the details of a Corona Relief Tiger Force pilot program in Sialkot, he said 20,000 volunteers, including 403 health professionals, were successfully rendering their services in different areas, including at 3,000 mosques, 34 USC outlets, and Ehsaas centers.
Mentioning that as all elected National and Provincial Assembly Members from across the country were the members of the corona relief committees set up at district levels, Usman Dar appealed them to play their part in serving the masses through the Corona Relief Tiger Force.
SAPM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said 17,000 people in the Tiger Force were related directly or indirectly to the health services, including 1,800 MBBS doctors, nurses, and other paramedical staff. Half of them had shown their interest in working for the government initiated web-based telehealth and telemedicine services for the benefit of masses in the difficult situation, he added.
The special assistant said the health professionals in the Tiger Force would also help the government in the implementation of its Trace, Track, and Quarantine (TTQ) policy.
Dr Zafar Mirza also stressed the need of strictly following the SOPs so that the people could protect themselves from COVID-19.
USC Chairman Zulqurnain Ali Khan said some 4,200 USC outlets, besides 800 franchises and mobile shops, were providing commodities to the people across the country on subsidized rates especially essential food items, including wheat flour, sugar, rice, pulses, etc.
He said the sale of Utility Stores during the last ten days of the holy month of Ramazan stood at Rs 9 billion, depicting the interest of people purchasing from the USC outlets, which offered commodities on 30% fewer prices.
The USC chairman said the Corona Relief Tiger Force would help identify any problems faced by the people or any other issue.
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