Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday launched a national-level SMS service under the ‘Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program’ to cater to the financial needs of the poor, needy and deserving people in the wake of ongoing coronavirus situation. Under the emergency cash program, the needy people can get a lump sum amount of Rs 12,000 as financial assistance for four months by sending their CNIC number through SMS service on 8171. The people sending their CNIC numbers will get a reply of their eligibility or otherwise for availing the facility after the analysation of their data by the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program. The prime minister while launching the service sent his CNIC number through SMS service on 8171 and got a reply that being a government servant he was not eligible for the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program. An SMS campaign will be the entry point to identify the beneficiaries. Through an aggressive communication campaign, citizens will be informed that they can send an SMS on 8171 to check their eligibility status. In the event of their being eligible, they will receive an SMS message informing them of how to collect money. If they are not identified in the database, they will be directed to contact their respective district administration. Prime Minister Imran Khan, describing the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic as an ‘extraordinary situation’, hoped that the people of Pakistan, by fighting and winning the war against Coronavirus with unity, faith, discipline and sagacity, will emerge as a great and stronger nation. “Nothing is impossible. Every difficulty is considered as a test for us. I hope this [Pakistani] nation will emerge as a great and stronger nation from this test,” he said, while participating in a private television’s live telethon held for raising funds for the Prime Minister’s Fund for COVID-19. The prime minister said as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread and affected the people worldwide including the leaders of some Western countries and the situation during coming weeks and months cannot be predicted, the war against this deadly contagion in Pakistan can only be won with unity of nation. Advising the people to take preventive measure against the COVID-19 including social distancing and limiting themselves within homes, he, however, warned the law enforcing personnel to avoid taking strict action against those coming out of houses. “We cannot fight and win the war against COVID-19 by putting people in jails. If we will not take care of our people, we cannot win this war,” he said, while calling for spreading awareness among people about the disease. In Rawalpindi, Prime Minister Imran Khan assured the doctors and paramedics, who are on the front line in fight against coronavirus and other severe health challenges, to provide protective material for their safety in vulnerable environment. Addressing doctors and healthcare staff here at the Cantonment General Hospital (CGH), the prime minister said the protective gear will be provided on priority to those working at the intensive care units (ICUs) and dealing patients suffering from contagious diseases. He said the decision was taken by the Command and Control Centre to ensure provision of shielding material to the front line medical staff for their own safety. Pakistan was fortunate to receive necessary medical equipment and expertise from China on priority as the world was facing the grave Covid-19 challenge, he added. The prime minister, who inaugurated the up-gradation of the 500-bed hospital at the heart of Saddar Rawalpindi, with modern medical facilities, said the entire nation and the government stood with the medical workers for their readiness to handle the difficult health situations. “We will fully support you – our doctors, nurses and paramedic staff, and the nation acknowledges your efforts,” he said. The prime minister asked youth in the country to join Corona Tiger Force as a ‘Jihad’ to help those facing the challenges of coronavirus. “I want youth to play their role in helping our fight against the COVID 19 by joining our Corona Tiger Force, which will be organised to do Jihad against the suffering caused by this pandemic,” the prime minister said in a tweet. He urged the citizens, particularly youth, to get themselves registered for the force via the Citizen Portal.