GUJRAT: As many as 328 export-based industrial units, mostly belonging to Sialkot, Gujrat and Gujranwala districts, have been granted conditional permission to reopen their manufacturing units subject to compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the government to minimise the chances of spread of Covid-19.

These units will be inspected by the monitoring teams constituted by respective deputy commissioners of the districts in the next few days and only those following the SOPs will be allowed to resume the operations.

The highest number of the units allowed to reopen are from Sialkot where at least 266 manufacturers of surgical instruments, leather garments, sports goods etc are granted permission by Gujranwala Commissioner Syed Gulzar Shah.

As per sources, applications of more than 100 units owners of Sialkot were still lying unapproved at the commissioner’s office.

Teams to ensure compliance with Covid-19 protocol

Similarly, around 47 manufacturing units of Gujranwala, 12 (mostly of electric fan makers and a shoe factory) have been allowed to operate in Gujrat. One industrial unit in Hafizabad district has also been granted permission.

Gujranwala Additional Commissioner (coordination) Nauman Hafeez Kalair told Dawn that the permission to these units had been granted permissions to operate after verification of their export orders by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

However, he said initially these units would complete the arrangements, including getting their workers and other employees tested for Covid-19, disinfecting their premises, reducing the staff, ensuring social distancing, provision of protection gear (gloves, face masks etc). The inspection teams constituted by the respective DCs would then visits to these factories and monitor the compliance of SOPs, after which the units complying with government directions would be allowed to function, he added.

On the other hand, local trade and industry organisations have demanded that all the businesses should be allowed to open subject to compliance with the Covid-19 SOPs as the traders and industrialists have suffered massive losses because of the ongoing lockdown.The demand was made by representatives of these organisations at a news conference at Gujrat Press Club.

TEST LAB: The Punjab government has established a latest laboratory to conduct the tests of Covid-19 suspected cases in Wazirabad which is likely to be functional within a couple of days.

The lab has been set up in Wazirabad Trauma Centre which is adjacent to the Tehsil Headquarter Hospital.

Sources said the issuance of a certificate by Punjab Healthcare Commission to make the facility functional was being awaited for which the health authorities had already applied otherwise the lab was ready to be operative.

They said the lab would cater to needs of the Gujranwala division for which Wazirabad city has been selected by the Punjab health department due to its location that has an easy approach to at least five out of six districts as only Narowal is located at a long distance otherwise Wazirabad is hardly 20 to 40 minutes drive away from Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Mandi Bahauddin and Hafizabad districts.

The lab established at a cost of Rs90 million has the capacity of conducting at least 500 to 1,000 Covid-19 tests daily.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2020