Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar presided over the video-link meeting of cabinet committee for the eradication of coronavirus here at his office on Friday to review the arrangements made for the treatment of patients. It also reviewed the pace of food supply chain in the province. The meeting decided to close down karyana shops, grocery and general stores at 8-00 pm. The chief minister said that these shops will remain open from 8-00 am to 8-00 pm daily and implementation on this decision will be started from tomorrow (March 28). No one will be allowed to violate this decision, he added. He continued that a decision has also been made on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan to allow movement of goods transport while the ban on public transport will remain in vogue. He directed to further strict the hot-spots' checking system throughout the province adding implementation on SOPs be ensured after the identification of sensitive areas. Movement should be kept limited in corona case affected areas, he added. He directed to ensure availability of essential items adding that arrangements relating to managing food supplies for the poor be given final shape at the earliest. He reiterated that economic package is being devised for the hoi polloi and a committee led by finance minister will give briefing tomorrow (March 28). He further said that the availability of coronavirus kits must be ensured along with the provision of personal protection equipment for doctors and paramedics. He directed to clean the DG Khan quarantine centres with antiseptic spray. Punjab government appreciates the services being rendered by Pakistan army, rangers, police and members of the provincial administration. Similarly, the role being played by doctors and paramedics is also worthwhile, he added. Provincial ministers Raja Basharat, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Dr Yasmeen Rahid, Hashim Jawan Bakht, CS, IGP and Commissioner Lahore attended the meeting at CM Office while Mussarat Jamshed Cheema MPA, SMBR and high officials participated through video link from Civil Secretariat. Similarly, secretaries of P&D, Labour, Food and Agriculture departments attended the meeting through video link from P&D Department. Commissioners of DG Khan, Multan and Faisalabad divisions also attended the meeting through the video link.
A delegation of Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) led by its Central Committee Chairman Asim Raza called on Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar at his office here on Friday and presented a donation of 31 thousand flour bags worth 2.5 crore rupees to the provincial government for distribution in the penurious population. The CM thanked the delegation and told that a comprehensive strategy has been employed to counter this pandemic while making every effort to improve the supply of flour and other food items. There are ample wheat reserves in the province while the new wheat crop is also ready, he said. Increase in flour mills’ wheat quota will be examined while there should be no hurdle in the supply of flour, he added. He assured to take steps for stabilizing the flour price to ensure its availability at the fixed rate. The people should not face any difficulty as there is no shortage of wheat or flour in the province, he appended. The PFMA delegation appreciated the steps being taken by the Punjab government for dealing with coronavirus pandemic and assured their full support in this regard. The PFMA will not let any shortage of flour in the province, they added. Chairman of PFMA’s Punjab Branch Abdul Rauf Mukhtar, Director Food Punjab and others were also present.
The U.S. Ambassador Paul W. Jones has assured of every possible cooperation to Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar to deal with the coronavirus. In a letter, the Ambassador said his country stands with Pakistan in the fight against coronavirus and added the US has termed Pakistan as a priority country for emergency coronavirus assistance. The US is providing assistance for overcoming epidemics, he further said. In this regard, the chief minister appreciated the US cooperation adding that coronavirus is an international pandemic which requires coordinated efforts for dealing with it.
In the wake of coronavirus threat, sites have been identified to establish field hospitals across the province and a 1000-bed field hospital would be functional in Expo Centre Lahore in a week. This was stated during a meeting held to review strategy to contain spread of coronavirus and maintain supply chain during lockdown in the province. Chief Secretary Punjab Major (r) Azam Suleman Khan, Provincial Law Minister Raja Basharat, Inspector General of Police Shoaib Dastgir and officers concerned attended the meeting whereas all divisional commissioners and regional police officers (RPOs) joined the meeting through video link. The meeting decided that carpets should be removed from mosques for disinfecting them and space between rows in congregational prayers should be doubled by skipping one line. The Chief Secretary asked the Secretary Health to conduct visits to sites of field hospitals and complete arrangements regarding provision of beds and other facilities as early as possible. He directed that there should be no hurdle in free movement of good transport for supply of commodities, however action be taken against those using goods transport as private means of travelling. He said that field officers should regularly visit jails and set up isolation wards there. He ordered that only prescribed number of persons be allowed in private cars and stern action be taken against violators. The meeting deliberated on a proposal to use railways and NLC for transportation of good from Karachi. The IG Punjab told the meeting that at present 50,000 policemen are performing duties to enforce the government’s measures against coronavirus. The Senior Member Board of Revenue briefed that mask and hand sanitizers would be provided to police very soon.
Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid reached Mayo Hospital on Friday to inquire about the death of the COVID-19 patient. The Minister constituted two-member committee to probe the death and look after the services provided to the patient. The Minister said in case of any deliberate negligence by the staff, action could be initiated against the responsible person. Present on the occasion were Vice Chancellor Medical University Professor Khalid Masood Gondal, CEO Mayo Hospital Asad Aslam Khan and other duty staff.