Centre calls for 'smart lockdown'.

Byline: Ikram Junaidi

ISLAMABAD -- While the confirmed cases of Covid-19 surged past 8,000 with the addition of 514 new ones and 20 deaths by 2am on Monday, the federal government on Sunday suggested to the provinces to enforce lockdown in only those localities from where new cases are being reported.

The government also decided to open Torkham and Chaman borders twice a week to facilitate return of around 800 stranded Pakistanis from Afghanistan, besides mulling over options to allow some international airlines to bring back the Pakistanis stranded in various countries.

In another significant development, six stakeholders in the health sector established Grand National Health Alliance (GNHA) to help protect the healthcare providers who are on the frontline in the war against Covid-19. The alliance sent a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, alleging that Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza and Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid had deceived the nation and the top court by making false statements regarding the coronavirus situation in the country.

Discussing the measures being taken to stop the spread of virus, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf told a news conference on Sunday that efforts were being made to stop the transmission of the disease from abroad. However, he said, 63 per cent of the cases were reported through local transmission. For this, he added, testing capacity would have to be increased and the relevant authorities should opt for 'smart lockdown'.

'We need to go for smart lockdown and let the other areas of the country remain open. Only those areas should be sealed from where cases are reported and other areas should remain open,' the PM's aide said.

'We have opened some industries but they also need to ensure social distancing among their employees,' he added.

Stranded Pakistanis will be brought back

About the stranded Pakistanis, Dr Yusuf said it was decided that Torkham and Chaman borders would be opened twice a week.

'Twice a week 500 Pakistanis would be brought through Torkham border and 300 through Chaman border. Moreover, 6,000 Pakistanis will be brought back by air from different countries next week. But they will have to stay in quarantine for 48 hours and they will be tested for Covid-19,' he said.

'There are thousands of Pakistanis in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who have lost their jobs and their visas have expired. [For them], 16...

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