Govt imposes Section 144 across Punjab to enforce anti-virus measures

Published March 16, 2020
Weddings allowed inside homes, teachers not required to be present during vacation. — Khurram Amin/File
Weddings allowed inside homes, teachers not required to be present during vacation. — Khurram Amin/File

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Sunday imposed Section 144 for three weeks across the province to check hoarding of food items and sanitisers and opening of public and private educational institutions, while allowing holding of weddings within homes.

The decisions were taken in an emergent meeting jointly chaired by Punjab health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and Chief Secretary Azam Suleman Khan at his camp office on Sunday.

The meeting was attended by the additional chief secretary (home), inspector general of police, secretaries of health and food departments, commissioners of Lahore and Bahawalpur divisions. All other divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners, regional police officers and district police officers joined the meeting through video conferencing.

The chief secretary stated that all stakeholders in society needed to play their role in fight against coronavirus, besides strictly adhering to the advisory on precautionary measures so that every citizen could be saved from the disease.

ACS (Home) Momin Agha told the meeting that section 144 had been imposed for three weeks across the province to prohibit hoarding and profiteering of hand sanitizers, opening of all private and public educational institutes, marriage/banquet halls and marquees, holding of examinations, religious congregation, public gatherings and sports festivals.

Weddings allowed inside homes, teachers not required to be present during vacation

The chief secretary directed that all educational institutes would remain closed and presence of teaching staff would not be allowed as well.

The meeting decided to close all parks, zoos and recreational places for the public. It was also decided that buses, which brought pilgrims from Iran and other areas, would be disinfected, relatives of pilgrims would be made aware of precautionary measures through videos and help of Ulema would be sought for this purpose.

All the divisional commissioners were asked to allocate one hospital in each division for coronavirus patients and make arrangements for quarantine and isolation of such patients.

The meeting decided to take stern action against the hoarders of food items, besides launching a media campaign to enhance awareness among people about coronavirus so that the citizens could save themselves from the disease by taking precautionary measures.

Dr Yasmin Rashid suggested providing coronavirus test kits to private labs by the government so that people could avail themselves of the facility at affordable rates. She maintained that the health department had established a helpline 1033 to provide information to the general public regarding the virus.

Punjab police IG Shoaib Dastgir told the meeting that his force was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the administration in fight against coronavirus. “Our Jawans will not budge an inch in the hour of need,” he assured the meeting.

The IG said the training sessions in police training centres and departmental promotion exams had been cancelled throughout the province, while parades of jawans had been banned in all police lines. He mentioned that lectures for jawans to enhance awareness about coronavirus continued under supervision of health experts in police lines.

Lahore Capital City Police Officer Zulfiqar Hameed told the meeting that a quarantine centre for police employees was being established at Kala Shah Kaku.

CM: Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Sunday visited the Corona Care Centre set up at the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Transplant Institute (PKLI) and inspected arrangements being made for the treatment of patients there.

The chief minister said the government had undertaken all necessary measures for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

The health minister, chief secretary, secretaries of both health departments and the PKLI senior doctors were present.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2020

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