Coronavirus outbreak: Cabinet refuses to declare a health emergency in Pakistan


ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has rejected the Ministry of Health’s proposal for declaring a “health emergency” in the country to tackle the novel coronavirus.

The cabinet in its meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, emphasized on strengthening coordination between provinces to increase awareness about the virus among the people, said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan while talking to the media after the meeting on Tuesday.

She said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Services Dr. Zafar Mirza briefed the cabinet about the coronavirus situation in the country and the steps taken by the government to tackle it. “The cabinet was informed that in all five cases of coronavirus have been reported so far,” she added.

Mirza said that all-out arrangements were being made at all the entry points of the country to screen the people coming from abroad, said Fridous, adding that the cabinet approved the health ministry’s request for the purchase of equipment to tackle the disease, with the directives to take the provinces on board.

The cabinet also called for better screening of travelers at entry points of the country and preparation of the database.

Besides the coronavirus outbreak, the cabinet took serious notice of corporal punishment to children in schools and decided to ensure immediate implementation of the required measures to stop the practice.

Premier Imran observed that in a civilized society, no one could be allowed to mete out physical punishment to children, Firdous told the media.

She said the prime minister renewed his commitment to bring the elements involved in profiteering, hoarding, and adulteration to book, observing that provision of relief to the people was the government’s main priority.

He directed the provincial governments to devise an effective mechanism for calculating the demand and supply of edible items in the country, and take all measures to provide items of daily use to the people at affordable rates, she added.

The cabinet members opined that the pro-people steps taken by the government had started paying dividends as the people had got relief, Firdous said.

At the outset of the meeting, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar briefed the cabinet on the improvement of economic indicators.

Appreciating the performance of his economic team, the prime minister reiterated the government’s firm resolve in providing relief to the common man.

The SAPM said Minister of Energy Omar Ayub Khan presented a comprehensive roadmap on demand and supply of electricity, high rates of utility bills, circular debt, infrastructure, and related issues.

The prime minister appreciated the performance of the energy minister and his team and called for effective legislation to deal with big power thieves, who, he said, got away while the small fish were caught.

He directed for finding out-of-box solutions for energy losses and power distribution, with setting medium- and long-term goals.

The cabinet while appreciating the efforts of the energy ministry, called for more steps to check over overbilling and high cost of electricity.

The prime minister issued directives to work out plans for the energy sector for the next 25 years.

The cabinet was informed that Turkey had expressed willingness to assist Pakistan in the reformation of the power system as they had introduced reforms to protect consumers’ rights and bring electricity tariffs down.


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