Pakistan is going to be calling in its army to help the police in “enforcing” Covid-19 guidelines in the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a televised address to the nation on Friday.
Khan said he doesn’t want to lock down the country “to save the livelihoods of the poorest in the country” but due to “a very few number” of people following coronavirus safety guidelines, there could soon be a situation where there will be “no other option” than to enforce a lockdown.
A fresh series of restrictions will include closing outdoor dining and gyms and changing market opening hours. Schools up to grade 12 will remain closed until after Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in mid-May.
The announcement comes as Pakistan faces an oxygen shortage, with the national health system facing mounting pressure.
Speaking alongside Khan on Friday, Asad Umar, the head of the National Command Operation Center on coronavirus (NCOC) said that 90% of the country’s oxygen supply has now been used and that an “emergency” situation is pending.
According to the Ministry of Health, the positivity rate of infection acr has been, on average, consistently above 10 percent on average across the country and the health system is currently under pressure.
Pakistan currently has 101,818 active cases, which is higher than the peak reached in the summer of 2020.