The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), along with other representative organisations, held a joint press conference in Lahore on Sunday, March 21, and stressed the government impose a full, countrywide lockdown to control the rising number of coronavirus cases.
The conference was presided over by PMA President Dr Ashraf Nizami, while he was joined by PMA Lahore's Vice-President Dr Khalid Mahmood Khan, PMA Lahore's Lady Vice-President Dr Erum Shahzadi, President of PMA Punjab Dr Tanveer Anwar, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association's Punjab President Dr Imran Zafar, and several other physicians.
During the press briefing, Dr Ashraf Nizami said that aside from imposing a full-fledged lockdown, the government must also ensure the availability of coronavirus vaccines to the public.
"[Owing to a surge in COVID-19 cases], the government must immediately declare a state of emergency, especially in Punjab," Dr Ashraf Nizami said, adding that the government had previously adopted a lockdown policy due to the mounting pressure from different organisations.
"The countrywide COVID-19 positivity ratio has exceeded 10 %," Dr Nizami said. "Despite that, the government has committed criminal negligence in the provision of vaccines."
On the other hand, Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Saturday dismissed rumours that the country was heading towards a "complete lockdown".
"Complete lockdown is not the solution," Asad Umar said. "We tried to explain that to people during the first wave [of the coronavirus] but they did not understand. You cannot shut down the entire country and steal people's livelihoods," added the minister.
Umar, however, had hinted at "targeted interventions", saying that the government tries to take steps that would not affect people's livelihoods.
The minister said the NCOC had identified coronavirus hotspot areas to provincial governments. He said the implementation of these smart lockdowns were not satisfactory.
As of Sunday, March 21, there were 3,677 new coronavirus cases reported across the country. According to the NCOC, there were 44 coronavirus deaths reported on March 20, while the overall positivity ration has increased to 8.7%. At present, there are 31,107 active coronavirus cases in the country.