ISLAMABAD: Pakistan announced on Monday that it will resume part of its train service and its top court ordered that shopping centers and markets should be permitted to operate all week throughout the country even when coronavirus cases reached 43,000.
Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that the government had decided to allow the train to start its limited operations from May 20.
“Pakistan Railways will resume partial service with 30 trains, 15 rides and 15 rides, starting May 20,” said a press release by Pakistan Railways.
Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had given permission to resume part of the train service starting Wednesday on condition that standard operating procedures (SOPs) were followed when the country was fighting the new corona virus.
“If the situation is [of the coronavirus pandemic] “remained stable during the month, all train services will resume across the country from June 1,” Rashid said.
Thousands of people have made reservations in advance to go home before Eid, which will be celebrated later this month.
Pakistan has made some of the domestic air services operate while the country continues to raise its lock nationally.
Prime Minister Khan in his efforts to reach vulnerable groups launched a cash assistance program for unemployed workers.
He said at the launch in Islamabad that more than Rs 3 billion so far was collected in the Corona Relief Fund, which will be used to provide support to people who have lost their jobs.
Meanwhile, a five-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed ordered that shopping centers and markets should be permitted to operate all week throughout the country.
Markets and shopping centers in Pakistan are closed during lockouts put in place to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Hearing the suo moto case regarding the steps taken against the virus outbreak, the president of the court questioned the “logic” behind keeping the mall closed and ordered that shopping centers and markets should remain open seven days a week.
“The province must not create obstacles in opening shopping centers after obtaining permits (from the health ministry).
The court hopes that the health ministry will not create unnecessary obstacles and will (allow) business to be opened, “the chief judge observed.
The top court also expressed displeasure with the way the money was spent dealing with the coronavirus crisis and grilling the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for these expenses.
NDMA has sent reports on the amount spent on medical equipment and quarantine centers for suspected patients.
In his press briefing, Faraz said the direction of the Supreme Court to open a business is proof that the government’s action plan to overcome the plague and reduce lockdowns is correct.
The minister asked people to take precautionary measures because the virus had not disappeared, only shops were opened.
“Corona hasn’t disappeared. It’s here and no one knows how long it will stay.
“But we appeal to the public, that just because things are reopening, they cannot continue the life they lived before the virus,” he said.
The national coronavirus count has jumped to 43,158.
Of a total of 43,158 patients, 17,241 cases so far have been detected in Sindh, 15,346 in Punjab, 6,230 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 2,692 in Balochistan, 997 in Islamabad, 540 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 112 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
A total of 11,922 patients have so far recovered from the virus while the mortality rate reaches 923 with 50 new deaths reported.
So far 387,335 tests have been carried out, including 13,925 in the past 24 hours.
In Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, authorities have announced to lift relaxation in closing since Tuesday after a “dangerous” surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.
“Given the trend in the rapid outbreak of COVID-19 and the increase in patients to dangerous levels, the government is suspending relaxation in locking from Monday-Tuesday midnight,” according to a notice issued on Sunday.
“There will be a full closure that had been enacted earlier on March 23 under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1958,” the notification added.
Only pharmacies and grocery stores are allowed to open during certain hours during locking.
Earlier, Planning Minister Asad Umar said that the capacity of 30,000 tests per day would be enough for Pakistan to control the spread of the deadly virus.
“At present, we are in a position to conduct more than 25,000 tests per day and with each day our capacity to conduct tests increases.
“We hope that at the end of the month or early next month we will be able to hold 30,000 tests per day,” he told Dawn.
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