Fact checking Bilawal Bhutto’s National Assembly speech

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On 25 June, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari made a speech in the National Assembly in which he addressed the Covid-19 situation in the country. In this speech, he lauded the efforts of the Sindh government in effectively handling the outbreak of the coronavirus, while criticizing the federal government’s response, calling their strategy ‘confused.’ During his speech, he made some claims which were found to be untrue by Soch Fact Check.

Claim 1: Sindh has the highest Covid-19 recovery rate
Verdict: False

While comparing Sindh to the rest of Pakistan, Bilawal said that the province has the highest Covid-19 recovery rate in the country. However, the National COVID-19 Health Advisory Platform database until 25 June reveals otherwise. According to the database, Sindh’s recovery rate is 54.19%, making its recovery rate the second-highest in the country preceded by Gilgit Baltistan at number one.

Claim 2: Sindh has the highest testing per capita:
Verdict: False

Bilawal Bhutto also falsely stated that Sindh has the highest testing per capita. According to data from The National COVID-19 Health Advisory Platform, a Covid-19 situation report put out by OCHA and the government, and official social media platforms of provincial health departments. The province or territory with the most tests per capita is the Islamabad Capital Territory with 41,743 tests per million population, followed by Gilgit Baltistan with 9,509 tests per million population. Sindh is the third highest with 8,698 tests per million population.

Note:
Population according to the 2017 Census of Pakistan.
All measures of number of tests each day have been taken from http://covid.gov.pk/

Sources: Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, KPK, GB, ICT, AJK

Claim 3: “The PTI government is not carrying out any effective awareness-raising activities to counter the spread of the virus. Does Balochistan have any awareness-raising campaigns in local languages?”
Verdict: False

Awareness-raising programs are being carried out in languages including, but not limited to, Balochi, Brahui and Pashto. Soch Fact Check spoke to Dr Zaheer Ahmed Kakar, a Public Health Specialist who is part of the provincial rapid response team (RRT) in Balochistan. He clarified that awareness-raising campaigns have been carried out by the federal government since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Balochistan. He highlighted that these campaigns are being carried out through television and digital media; door-to-door visits by local healthcare workers; and sermons by religious scholars and clergy.

Research Associate: Rahul Hasnain

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