Photo: File.

The Federal Ministry for Interior on Sunday issued an official notification stating that the government will seek the help of the Pakistan Army in implementing the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures  (SOPs) in view of the surging number of cases across the country. 

The decision to seek the help of the armed forces was taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, April 23, during a meeting of the  National Coordination Committee for Coronavirus.

According to the notification, with the exception of Sindh, all parts of the country, including Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the Islamabad Capital Territory will seek the assistance of the army to strictly implement the coronavirus SOPs. The provinces, however, will call the army in accordance with their needs, the notification said.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed confirmed the news via a video message posted on Twitter. He, however, did not elaborate on why the orders were not extended to Sindh.

“This is a big decision [on part of the government to seek the help of the army] because, in our neighbouring country of India, 350,000 to 400,000 cases of coronavirus are being reported on a daily basis,” said the minister, as reported by Geo.tv.

Sindh writes to Interior Ministry, asking for Army deployment

Given the situation, the Sindh government on Sunday wrote a letter to the Ministry of Interior, seeking the army’s help for the civil administration under Article 245 of the Constitution.

The Sindh government said it would inform the interior ministry about details regarding troop employment and equipment after holding consultations over the matter.

On the other hand, Sindh information ministry Nasir Hussain Shah has warned that the provincial government will impose a lockdown if the situation turns alarming in Sindh.

“The provincial government is ready; if [coronavirus] situation worsens, we will impose a lockdown,” he had said on Saturday, speaking during Geo News’ programme “Naya Pakistan.”

Full lockdown in Punjab if situation worsens: Dr Yasmin Rashid

Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid on Sunday said that Pakistan is also facing an alarming surge in the number of coronavirus cases which is putting immense pressure on hospitals.

Dr Yasmin said that the Punjab government is keeping a check on the situation on a regular basis, adding that if people don’t pay heed to the coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs), then it will be compelled to impose a complete lockdown in the coming two to four days.

Highest single-day death toll

Pakistan on Saturday reported 157 deaths due to COVID-19, making it the country’s highest single-day death toll since the coronavirus pandemic began last year.

Previously, the highest death toll reported by the country was 153 on June 20th of last year.

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