ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: The capital administration sealed two commercial centres, 22 industrial units and more than 100 stores for violating standard operating procedures (SOP) introduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Administration officials were sent out to monitor SOP implementation after a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases reported in the city. Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat, assistant commissioners and magistrates went out separately to check various localities.
Mr Shafqaat observed violations in Bhara Kahu Market on Athal Chowk and New Aabpara Market, both of which were sealed, officials said.
Mr Shafqaat confirmed his visit to Bhara Kahu Market and New Aabpara Market and said he saw massive SOP violations, because of which he sealed entire markets.
He said people were seen visiting shops without wearing masks or gloves, and were not practicing social distancing. Public and private vehicles also violated SOPs, he said.
Administration officials conducted widespread inspections to monitor implementation of SOPs, which they said are being violated by people and businesses alike
TheRuralassistant commissioner sealed 17 shops in P.W.D. Market, Lohi Bher Market and Sihala Bazaar, and 13 people were fined for violating SOPs, while the Industrial Area assistant commissioner sealed five commercial entities in Karachi Company and I-8 Markaz.
The Secretariat assistant commissioner checked the Bari Imam area and sealed more than a dozen shops, as well as three fuel stations.
A survey of markets conducted by the administration and police revealed that most of the markets in Bari Imam and near Quaid-i-Azam University were open and the vast majority of people were not taking precautions to avoid contracting Covid-19 such as wearing masks and gloves.
SOPs are not being implemented at the Bari Imam shrine, which was opened to the public, and people are not practicing social distancing.
In Industrial Area, fruit and vegetable vendors and cart vendors selling green grocery items in Sangam Market in I-8/3 are not implementing SOPs either, officials said, adding that this is a very dangerous situation that will result in the coronavirus spreading even further.
A survey of kiosks and roadside outlets in the Sabzi Mandi area, I-10 Markaz and automobile markets in I-10/3 revealed that there was no implementation of SOPs.
No one is wearing masks or gloves or using hand sanitiser to protect themselves.
The same situation was observed in markets in the Koral area.
Officials told Dawn that most of the capital’s commercial centres and markets were opened because of the government’s decision, but none of these centres or shops are abiding by the timing restrictions. Many have stayed open past 7pm until late into the night.
Most commercial centres, markazes, markets and shops have not made any arrangements for social distancing either, and many people have been found in these areas ignoring SOPs.
Senior administration and police officers have been approached with requests to implement SOPs strictly, they said, as the situation is worsening day by day and will spiral out of control.
97 shops sealed, 18 arrested for violating SOPs
With at least 2,435 Covid-19 cases reported in Rawalpindi and 105 dead, the district administration has made it mandatory for shopkeepers and customers to wear masks and sealed 97 shops, imposed Rs225,000 in fines and arrested 18 people for violating SOPs on Thursday.
“All the traders associations in the district were informed of the SOPs before markets were opened, and they were asked to use masks, gloves and hand sanitiser and to ensure that customers also take these measures,” Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Anwarul Haq told the media.
He said the district administration was working to implement SOPs and no negligence would be tolerated in this regard. Monitoring teams are visiting markets every day.
Mr Haq said there are 113 critical Covid-19 patients and 27 patients have been placed on ventilators, while another 1,246 are stable and isolated in their homes.
Apart from this, he said, the district administration is working to control profiteering and hoarding, and shopkeepers have been fined for charging high prices.
He said there is enough space in government-run hospitals to handle Covid-19 patients, and 3,000 people can be accommodated at one time. The provincial government has allocated Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) for Covid-19.
Of the 112 ventilators available in Rawalpindi’s four hospitals, 27 are in use at the moment, he said.
26 test positive for Covid-19
Five more people died from Covid-19 on Thursday and 26 tested positive.
A 45-year-old patient who lived in Mohammad Kashmirian died at Holy Family Hospital (HFH), while a 57-year-old resident of Mohallah Fazalabad died at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences.
A 72-year-old ma died at the Military Hospital, and 85-year-old patient who lived near Radio Pakistan on Peshawar Road also died at the Military Hospital and a 65-year-old patient who lived in Chaklala Scheme III died at HFH.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2020