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Pak govt approves Rs. 700 crore package for labourers as COVID-19 cases cross 14,000

The Pakistan Cabinet, in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan also approved an assistance package for the COVID-19 related healthcare workers.

By: PTI | Islamabad | April 28, 2020 10:43:23 pm
Coronavirus outbreak, Vadodara curfew, containment areas, Vadodara news, indian express news The package will be applicable to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, according to a statement. (Representational Image)

Pakistan on Tuesday approved a Rs 700 crore special relief package for labourers to help them face the economic fallout of the lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 300 lives and infected more than 14,000 people in the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a Cabinet meeting which discussed various issues, including the fight against the coronavirus. Addressing the Cabinet, Khan tasked Special Assistant for Social Welfare Dr. Sania Nishter and Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar to devise a comprehensive mechanism for providing relief to the workers.

The Cabinet approved a Rs. 75 billion (700 crore) special relief package for labourers. It also approved an assistance package for the COVID-19 related healthcare workers. “Any healthcare worker, who dies while performing duties related to the COVID-19 shall be entitled to the same package as is applicable to the government servants in cases of security related deaths contained in Shuhada Package,” according to a statement.

The package will be applicable to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, it said.

Advisor on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza told the media that the rate of daily coronavirus deaths reported in Pakistan remained the same for the last two weeks, which was a good trend. “We hope this (deaths) will start decreasing,” he said, adding that people should follow the government’s guidelines. “We might have to extend the lockdown if people don’t follow the social distancing measures,” he said.

Mirza also said the government had decided to prepare national guidelines regarding the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The government is working on a national plan for the safety and protection of frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be announced in a few days.

He said it was decided after talking with provincial health ministers and the Pakistan Medical Association that “we need to work together for the safety and protection of our health workers”.

Pakistan coronavirus cases crossed 14,000 mark on Tuesday as 751 more infections were reported in the last 24 hours. The Ministry of National Health services reported that the death toll reached 301 as 16 more people died during this period, while 3,233 people have fully recovered.

The total number of cases in Pakistan is 14,079. Punjab has registered 5,640 patients, Sindh 4,956, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 1,984, Balochistan 853, Gilgit-Baltistan 320, Islamabad 261 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 65.

So far, 157,223 tests have been done, including 6,417 during the last 24 hours.

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqat issued an advisory to all media houses in the capital, urging them to take steps for protection of their workers after ARY News channel closed down its office after seven of its employees were tested positive. “They (media workers) must be provided with appropriate protection gears. We have provided some support to the reporters but more is required,” said Shafqat in a tweet.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet approved a special support package for the journalists and journalistic bodies especially press clubs to help them during the pandemic and tasked the Minister for Information to finalise procedure for disbursement of the grant to the deserving journalists and journalistic bodies.

Also, during the meeting, Khan directed to ban export of all edible items consumed by common man in the wake of current situation. The decision will be reviewed after two weeks.

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