PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Wednesday announced stringent measures to control the spread of coronavirus as the province reported three more cases taking the tally to 19.
During a news conference here, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan announced a ban on all indoor gatherings.
He said grocery stores and pharmacies would function as usual but all other shops would remain open from 10am to 7pm.
The chief minister said all tourist spots would be closed across the province.
He asked parents not to visit picnic spots due to the closure of schools and said such places were being closed as precautionary measure against coronavirus.
Mr Mahmood said from now onwards, official meetings with more than five people in attendance won’t take place, while all meetings would be held by videoconference.
KP reports three more cases taking tally to 19
He said all restaurants and food outlets had been told to suspend operation until April 5 but they would carry out home delivery and takeaway services.
The chief minister said barbershops and beauty parlours had been closed for 15 days, while the government’s offices would remain open from Monday through Thursday and would close at 12pm on Fridays.
He said the visitors’ entry to all government offices, including secretariat, directorate and district offices, had immediately been banned to ensure social distancing.
Mr Khan said the government would decide about whether or not to suspend public transport service across the province in few days.
“We are moving ahead in a gradual manner,” he said.
Health minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said the provincial cabinet in its last meeting had approved Rs8 billion to tackle the health hazard and of the amount, Rs500 million had been released to the health department.
He said three new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the province on Wednesday taking the tally to 19.
The minister said the cases were reported in Peshawar, Mardan and Buner each and they all had foreign travel history.
Officials told Dawn that the Buner case was reported in Matwani village in Gagra subdivision, where a 34-year-old man, who had returned from Sharjah a few days ago, tested positive for the virus.
They said the patient had been shifted to the Gagra district headquarters hospital, while teams had been sent to his village to track and screen his social contacts.
Commissioner of Malakand Riaz Khan Mehsud told Dawn that the administration had banned the entry of tourists to the region for 15 days in light of the government’s direction and following the surfacing of the first coronavirus case.
He said all hotels in the region would also remain closed for a fortnight.
In Mardan district, the authorities revealed that a 50-year-old man, who recently returned from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah, had tested positive for coronavirus.
An official of the district administration told Dawn that nine family members of the patient would be quarantined
at home, while his two social contacts, who had travelled with him, had been quarantined at the Manga rural health centre.
The provincial capital’s first confirmed coronavirus case was a 30-year-old man, who travelled to Dubai lately.
Sources said the patient, a resident of Hangu district, stayed at the house of a relative in Academy Town area and was taken to a village clinic after he didn’t feel well.
They said the doctor referred the man to the Service Hospital from where he was shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital, where he had been quarantined.
Also in the day, teams of the district administration backed up by the police reached the area and closed off the house, where the patient stayed, and the clinic, where he was examined.
Meanwhile, the administration of Jamrud tehsil in Khyber tribal district ordered the closure of all restaurants and barbershops in the area for two weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
However, the people were allowed to take away food from restaurants.
The administration has already restricted official gatherings and asked elders not to hold jirgas.
However, the cricket matches played under the Fata Super League continued to be played at Jamrud Sports Complex with people showing up in large numbers without adopting preventive measures against coronavirus.
In Kohat, the administration closed driving and weapon licence offices to prevent the gathering of more than five people.
The district administration of Swabi said besides hospitals, the government educational institutions would also be available for the quarantining of suspected coronavirus cases.
It declared that quarantine centres would be established in selected schools of Chota Lahor, Topi, Razaar and Swabi tehsils.
In Abbottabad, DIG of Hazara division Qazi Jamilur Rehman directed the police to strictly enforce the protocol set by
the government to prevent coronavirus and cooperate with other departments for the smooth running of government affairs.
He asked DPOs of Abbottabad, Haripur and Mansehra to ensure the immediate elimination of illegal wagon and bus stands.
In Nowshera, the administration banned fairs, sport tournaments and urs of Ziarat Kaka Sahib.
Meanwhile, Karak’s assistant commissioner Abdus Samad Nizamani and food controller Amjad Ali Khan checked the stocks of grain and food during raid on shops of wholesale dealers in the district headquarters and warned them against hoarding.
They also checked grocery stores in Karak city and warned traders of action over profiteering.
Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2020