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ISLAMABAD, Jan 12 (APP): Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar Tuesday said that the decisions of the government to cope with second wave of COVID-19 yielded positive results as number new cases, hospitalized patients, those on ventilators and deaths had started coming down after witnessing peak in December 2020.

Addressing media here after chairing a meeting of National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) for corona virus, the minister said by end November, the NCOC decided to close down some selected sectors again to prevent the spread of the deadly pandemic.

By start of December, he said the hospitals across the country were receiving highest number of patients but later on the trend started declining. Similarly he said in the second week of December, the number of those on oxygen was the highest and then in the third week COVID-19 patients on ventilators and deaths were peaked.

After that the trend started easing and now it is on the downward trajectory. Asad Umar however warned that the second wave was proved to be more deadly and in the Western countries and the US, the number of deaths was more than that in the first wave so “we should be highly careful at this last stage of the pandemic”.

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He said the decisions of the government and the results were highly correlated that is why the people should observe all the precautionary measures suggested by the NCOC and the health authorities.

The minister said that the COVID-19 vaccine from China would come to Pakistan soon and first it would be used for the frontline health workers such as medical staff and then for common people.

The minister pointed out that during the first wave, by April, over 20 million workers out of 50 million were of the view that their livelihood was badly affected due to the lockdowns.

After establishment of NCOC, the Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed to implement such a strategy that should allow specially the poor daily wagers to work by adhering to the precautionary measures, he added.

He said on the direction of the Prime Minister the NCOC started implementing the smart lockdown policy that was acknowledged from across the world including the World Health Organization (WHO).

He said within a few weeks after the establishment of NCOC, the country’s economy witnessed a “V” shaped recovery. For example he said the construction and industrial sectors in which about 46 percent of all workers work was now witnessing a speedy growth.

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On the contrary, he said millions of people in the neighbouring country India were struggling due to bad policies of their government.

He said about 80 percent workers of construction, 72 percent of industrial sector and 67 percent of transport sector lost their jobs and that was why the government decided to opened these sectors on priority.

Similarly he said 54 percent people said that they had reduced the purchasing of eatables and about 47 percent people had to spend their saving money or to sell their small household items to purchase for their eatables.

Due to these reasons, the PM decided to adopt such a policy that would not affect the people’s livelihoods besides preventing the spread of the pandemic.

He further said the so far the people had responded well to the government’s decisions and hoped that now at the last stage they would also not ignore the precautionary measures.

He also lauded the healthy role played by the media and others.