A policeman stands guard outside a street in Islampura that was sealed on Tuesday as part of the government’s 14-day smart lockdown. — White Star
A policeman stands guard outside a street in Islampura that was sealed on Tuesday as part of the government’s 14-day smart lockdown. — White Star

LAHORE: As per directions from the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) on Tuesday, the Punjab government decided to partially impose ‘smart lockdown’ on seven of its major cities – Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, Sialkot, and Gujrat – to arrest sharp increase in infections.

Lockdown in Lahore started immediately (Tuesday midnight) whereas other six cities will follow the suit by Wednesday (today) midnight. Police would be deployed at the entry and exit points of the areas to be placed under restrictions while Army and Rangers would be on standby.

Dozens of localities in Lahore have been placed under restrictions. The entire Phase-1 and Phase-5 of the DHA, major areas of Gulberg (B1, B2, B3, A3), Johar Town (B, G3, J2 blocks,) Wapda Town (F2 and G blocks), entire Askari-10, parts of Cavalry Ground, Qila Gujjar Singh, Canal View (B Block), Daroghawala, localities falling on the back side of the Lahore General Hospital, Gulistan Colony and scores of smaller localities spread across the city would face the lockdown.

Explaining the reasons, Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid had told the media on Monday that more than 300 confirmed cases of Covid-19 had been recorded in each of these areas – indicating a sharp spike.

Areas in six cities to come under restrictions tonight

Ms Rashid further explained that pharmacies, tandoors and dairy shops would stay open in these areas and so will factories making personal protective equipment (PPEs).

“The areas will face lockdown for at least two weeks and then we will observe the results,” she had said.

The NCOC issued directions regarding lockdown in 20 cities across the country, including seven of Punjab and the provincial government followed the instructions by evening and decided to partially shut the localities down in its seven cities. For deciding which areas would undergo restriction, the chief secretary said the deputy commissioners have been empowered to decide, considering local realities.

The orders for lockdown and strict implementation of SOPs were issued by Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik on Tuesday evening, saying the list of affected areas would be released to the media before the lockdown for the guidance of the people and the services of the Tiger Force would be taken to help the people affected by the lockdown.

He said civil and police officers would have to work together to implement SOPs for the prevention of coronavirus, adding that 3,000 police personnel would be deployed in the areas to be in lockdown in Lahore.

Meanwhile, Punjab reported 1,740 new cases in the last 24 hours, raising the tally to 55,878. The city reported 816 new cases – little less than half of them. According to the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, 50 more deaths have been reported in the province and total toll now stands at 1,081. The province has so far carried out 366,435 tests and 17,730 patients have recovered from the deadly virus.

GUJRAT: The district administration has decided to impose smart lockdown in 18 localities across the district due to the alarming ratio of Covid-19 infected patients in those areas.

Two branches of a commercial bank have also been sealed by the local authorities after some senior staff members of these banks were found infected.

Gujrat DC Dr Khurram Shahzad told Dawn 10 localities had been identified in Gujrat tehsil, mainly in the towns of Gujrat, Jalalpur Jattan, Fatehpur and Kunjah whereas six localities had been identified in Kharian tehsil, mainly in Lalamusa city and Dinga town. Two localities have been identified in Sara-i-Alamgir tehsil.

Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 patients have risen to 1,288 in Gujrat district. The total number of deaths which is officially confirmed is now 29.

FAISALABAD: The district administration has selected 17 localities where 50 cases of coronavirus have been reported.

Lockdown will take effect from Wednesday (today) in the areas including all eight bazaars around Ghanta Ghar, Akbar Chowk Market, Bano Market, Makki Market, Anarkali Bazaar, D Type Colony, Dhudiwala Market, Jhal Market, Mandi Quarter, Main Bazaar Mansoorabad, Main Bazaar Samanabad, Main Bazaar Razaabad, Saddar Bazar Ghulam Mohammadabad, Warispura Gol, Tata Bazaar Market, Factory Area and Djikot Main Bazaar.

KASUR: The district administration is likely to impose smart lockdown in 18 areas of 10 union councils in the next few days.

DC Manzar Javid Ali said the officials of the district administration would be taken on board and parameters set by the Punjab government would be considered before finalising the areas for smart lockdown.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2020