ISLAMABAD – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday cited economic losses to justify his government’s decision to revoke the locking of the corona virus despite increasing infections and deaths, urging people to “live with the virus”.
Pakistan has returned almost all closing measures, especially to prevent economic crisis. The country will be open for tourism but cinemas, theaters and schools remain closed.
The South Asian country, which has a population of 220 million, reported 72,160 new cases of corona virus and 1,543 deaths, which recently surged to 80 per day.
Economic losses include a decline in exports, a 30% decline in income and remittances are expected to fall in the coming months, Khan said. With a fiscal deficit likely to rise as high as 9.4% and income shortages, Pakistan faces a balance of payments crisis.
The country is unable to match the losses incurred during confinement as do many other countries, Khan said in a speech broadcast on television.
He quoted 50 million people living below the poverty line and 25 million daily bets.
Khan said his government provided cash assistance to the poor, which could not be continued on a large scale, adding that around 130 million to 150 million people were badly affected by the closure.
“Our condition does not allow us to continue to feed them, how long we can give them money,” Khan said.
He urged people to act responsibly, but more infections and deaths are inevitable.
“This virus will spread more. I have to say with regret that there will be more deaths,” Khan said. “If people are careful they can live with viruses.”
(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; editing by Grant McCool)
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