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‘Stay at home even if symptoms’: Imran Khan draws criticism for coronavirus advice

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan urged people to stay at home and observe their own symptoms for days instead of rushing to a hospital if they suspect they have contracted the coronavirus.

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi | Updated: March 18, 2020 7:49:58 pm
Imran Khan assured that for most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate flu like symptoms and most recover from the infection so there’s no need to panic. (Source: AP)

The World Health Organization may have urged nations to “test, test, test” for the coronavirus, but Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in a speech to the nation appealed to people not to panic and rush to hospitals for testing. His statements have since drawn criticism on social media.

In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday night, Khan claimed that 97 per cent of those who test positive for the coronavirus will make a full recovery. Khan said that 90 per cent of people experience a mild illness similar to the flu and said only those with prior medical conditions and old age are at high risk.

Khan said that even if 4-5 per cent of coronavirus patients out of thousands get critically ill, it will be a huge burden for healthcare facilities. “Only the old and vulnerable are at risk and require proper medical attention,” he said.

Speaking about the situation in the US, Khan said, “Please don’t run to the hospitals for testing. USA is one of the strongest countries yet they don’t have the resources to test everyone for coronavirus. No country in the world has such resources or equipment where anyone coughing can be tested for coronavirus.”

Reiterating the ‘low fatality’ of the virus that has already killed over 7,000 people worldwide, Khan urged people to stay at home and observe their own symptoms for days before going to hospitals.

Watch the videos of the speech here:

The address did not have the desired impact with many accusing the Pakistani prime minister of being “insensitive” and “downplaying the seriousness” of the pandemic. Pakistan presently has 237 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Commenting on calls to shut down cities to slow the spread of the disease, Khan said Pakistan can’t “afford” the response like European countries. “Our economic situation is very fragile. We cannot lock down the country like these countries,” he went on to say, adding: “If we lock down our cities, what will happen to the poor? Here, the people will die of hunger.”

Watch his full address here:

According to a Dawn report, the Pakistani government has contacted the relevant agencies of the United Nations and the World Bank for grants and assistance through quick disbursing windows for initial response to the disease and immediate relief as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday agreed not to consider expenditures to be made on deadly virus in deficit targets.

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