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Iran Press TV

In time of deadly pandemic, India, Pakistan to lift some curbs to help millions

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 15 April 2020 1:15 PM

In a move to help millions of people hit by lockdowns due to the new coronavirus pandemic, the governments in India and Pakistan will allow particular activities to resume.

The Indian Home Ministry on Wednesday released guidelines allowing limited resumption of commerce and industry in the hinterland, which has been less affected by the pandemic.

"To mitigate hardship to the public, select additional activities have been allowed, which will come into effect from April 20."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday ordered the population of 1.3 billion to keep indoors for 19 days more after a strict three-week lockdown.

Modi, however, said some restrictions in areas further away from infection hotspots would be eased on April 20 to help poor people dependent upon daily wages. "Till April 20, each police station, each district, each state will be monitored closely to see whether the lockdown is being followed and if that area has saved itself from the virus."

India has 11,439 infections, government data showed on Wednesday, a jump of 1,076 from the previous day. The data includes 377 dead.

There are fears that numbers could skyrocket and overwhelm the rickety healthcare services in India.

The country has one doctor for every 1,500 citizens, short of the ratio of one for every 1,000 recommended by the World Health Organization.

In some rural areas, the ratio is one doctor to 10,000 people.

"We had no choice but to extend the lockdown, but we are trying to protect livelihoods," said Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, which, along with Mumbai, accounts for more than a third of cases.

Pakistan, which also announced a two-week extension to its shutdown to halt the virus, said it would reopen construction activity that provides a lifeline for the largest number of its people after agriculture.

Export industries, such as garments, will also be permitted to begin production, said Industries Minister Hammad Azhar, adding that the government had made an assessment of the sectors least vulnerable to infection.

"The low-risk industries, meaning where there is less danger of the epidemic's spread as compared to others, they were identified."

Pakistan's caseload is 5,988, including 107 deaths.

Hundreds of Bangladeshi workers defy lockdown

In Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, hundreds of workers defied a government lockdown to take to the streets, demanding wages.

"We have not received wages for the last two months," said one of them.

The second-largest apparel producer after China, Bangladesh is set to lose an export revenue of about $6 billion this fiscal year, hit by cancellations from some of the world's largest brands and retailers.

Bangladesh has 803 cases, including 39 deaths.

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