Prime Minister Imran Khan said Thursday the centre would offer all possible assistance, as well as resources, to the government of Balochistan to tackle the novel coronavirus, which has so far infected more than 200 people there, but warned that the situation could worsen in coming months.
Addressing the provincial cabinet and members of the parliament, PM Imran said the COVID-19 has become a challenge for the entire world, including Pakistan. "We will fight as a nation against the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped almost the entire world,” he added.
Sharing his apprehensions that the conditions could worsen in the coming months, he said the government was closely monitoring the situation in Pakistan and keeping an eye on global dynamics where developed countries such as the US, China, and most parts of Europe have taken measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Touching upon the coronavirus cases in Balochistan, PM Imran said it was fortunate that there is no serious case in the province till now. However, he added, Balochistan might economically suffer the most due to the lockdown.
"We will offer all possible assistance to the government of Balochistan in tackling the coronavirus. We will provide all resources to Balochistan," he said.
"I understand very well the challenges poor people are facing during the lockdown. A workable economic strategy should be made to reduce as much as possible the challenges the poor people are facing.
"The provincial governments should take concrete steps to ensure an uninterrupted supply of food items," he added.
The premier said the provinces were to inform the federal government on April 14 on what steps they could take to ease the lockdown. He said the centre and the provincial governments were on the same page.
It was provincial governments' call to end or continue the lockdown, he noted, adding that they would make decisions by analysing the situation in their respective regions.
Pakistan has also sought help from China by learning from their experience of fighting coronavirus, PM Imran added.
Earlier today, the prime minister — alongside federal ministers Asad Umar and Zubaida Jalal — had arrived in Quetta to assess the coronavirus situation in Balochistan; he was received by Chief Minister Jam Kamal.
During the PM's visit to a quarantine centre at the Bolan Medical College Hospital, the provincial chief secretary briefed him about the facilities provided to the patients there. He was also briefed about the ongoing situation as well as the steps authorities have taken to stem the spread of the virus in the province.
PM Imran's visit comes as the number of confirmed cases in the country rose to more than 4,400. Punjab has been the worst-affected province with over 2,100 recorded cases, while Sindh had more than 1,100.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reported 560 cases while Balochistan has recorded 213. In Islamabad, more than 100 cases have been detected while Gilgit-Baltistan has 213. Azad Jammu and Kashmir has 33 coronavirus cases.
At least 64 people have died of the COVID-19, with 21 in Sindh, 20 in KP, 17 in Punjab, three in GB, two in Balochistan, and one in Islamabad.