LAHORE: Alarmed at the exponential increase in the coronavirus-positive cases and deaths, the Punjab government has decided to come out of its awareness-creating mode and put its foot down to ensure implementation of SOPs in Lahore – to begin with.
The Punjab government had recorded 43 Covid-19-related deaths and [record] number of 1,610 citizens tested positive on Tuesday, while 30 deaths and another high number of 1,639 people contracted the virus on Wednesday.
The Punjab health department’s smart sampling data analysis in Lahore has already scared people as well as the government about mass spread of infections with 670,800 projected coronavirus-positive cases.
The recklessness of people in observing the SOPs while going to markets and bazaars that resulting in deaths and infections has compelled the Punjab government to launch strict measures – to strike balance between`running of economy’ and saving human lives,” an official privy to the developments told Dawn on Wednesday.
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The official says the Punjab government has decided to teach a lesson to the SOPs violators be it the business community or the general public. “The government will go for closing shops, even bazaars and markets, where non-observance of SOPs is found,” the official says.
Sources say the government is instructing the policemen and traffic wardens to stop the commuters, not wearing masks, and impose fines as is the case in Islamabad Capital Territory. The ICT is imposing Rs3,000 fine on each violation but the fine amount in Lahore has not yet been shared, the sources add.
“The government will work out details of fine for different violations including non-wearing of masks, not observing physical distancing in shops and notify on Thursday (today),” an official says.
Officials concerned say people have taken for granted the coronavirus pandemic and its massive spread particularly in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Faisalabad which showed its dreadful face soon after Eid shopping spree of people in terms of landing people in hospitals in sheer agony and leading to deaths.
Not at the cost of human lives, the businesses can be allowed to run unmindfully,” another official says.
Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik also held an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening and directed that the shops, bazaars and markets be closed for violating SOPs. The Punjab government has also notified that its employees in offices will wear masks without fail.
Since the Punjab government had also launched awareness campaign despite believing that “stay home, stay safe” and wear masks at public places had reached everyone during the past two months, it is also planning to observe “Coronavirus Awareness Day”.
In an effort to block the spread of coronavirus pandemic, the government was forced not to allow opening of restaurants and parks in Lahore.
Referring to the gravity of the situation, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has also come out to say that shopkeepers must follow the policy of ‘no mask, no service’. He said the pandemic had ushered in socio-economic and cultural changes in the whole world and now, the people needed to learn to live with it by following certain precautions.
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2020