Pakistan yesterday began signing up young volunteers to deliver aid to millions of day labourers who have lost livelihoods due to a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
The Corona Relief Tigers Force, an initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan, seeks to register at least 100,000 volunteers aged 18 and over from across the nation.
The volunteers will identify families in dire need of government financial support and deliver relief to them, Khan said at the launch of the registration drive yesterday.
The initiative came as Pakistan’s number of coronavirus cases climbed above 2,000 amid fears that thousands more citizens could succumb to the global pandemic.
Nearly 40% of Pakistan’s population live below the poverty line, a statistic that was being keenly felt as the South Asian country entered its 10th day of lockdown.
Stay-at-home orders have stripped millions of day labourers in the construction and agriculture sectors of their livelihoods.
The government last week announced a $7.1bn economic package, which included handout payments to poor families and subsidies for industrialists to continue paying staff.
Khan said a prolonged lockdown would pile pressure on the country’s resources and that the government would have to seek assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors.
Volunteers are set to work with civil administrations, representatives of local governments, the police and the military, Khan’s office said.
“It is going to be massive, and a lot of manpower will be needed for that,” the premier said.
PM says govt stands by medical staff: Prime Minister Khan has assured that the government stands by the medical staff including doctors and nurses and will provide them full protection in the fight against coronavirus.
He was speaking after inaugurating the upgradation project of cantonment General Hospital Rawalpindi yesterday.
The prime minister said doctors, nurses and other medical staff are in the frontline of battle against coronavirus and they will be provided with the necessary protective equipment to ensure their safety and health.
Khan said discussions are being held on daily basis as to how the health workers can be further supported and incentives can be given to them.
He said the trend of the pandemic in Pakistan will become clear in a matter of one week.
However, he expressed satisfaction that Pakistan has not witnessed the sort of escalation of cases as has been seen in the western countries. He said our fatality rate is also low when compared with the world.
Alluding to the increasing demand of protective equipment and ventilators in the world after the breakout of the pandemic, the prime minister said Pakistan is fortunate that China is giving us preference in provision of the equipment after controlling the virus in its own land.
The prime minister regretted that the health sector was not given preference over the last seven decades. “The standards of our hospitals were better up till 1960s and 1970s but then allocations for both the education and the health sectors were brought down.”
Earlier, the prime minister visited different sections of the hospital and reviewed the facilities there. On the occasion, he was briefed about the hospital’s upgradation.
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