LAHORE: The Punjab government withdrew its lockdown notification after ascertaining that the coronavirus did not spread from crowding hubs such as cattle markets and bazaars ahead of Eidul Azha as feared.
To pave the way for observing ‘Youm-i-Istehsal-i-Kashmir’, a new notification has allowed gatherings of all kinds to express solidarity with Kashmiris on Aug 5 only – under the supervision of respective district administrations and law enforcement agencies after adopting complete standard operating procedures.
The health department had imposed a lockdown on July 27 for nine days to contain the feared spread of coronavirus due to Eid shopping, as it was seen to be sharply subsiding during the last one month owing to smart lockdowns, particularly in Lahore.
Since the cattle markets were opened around two weeks ahead of Eidul Azha, the primary and secondary healthcare department ascertained that the spread of the virus remained negligible.
General lockdown to remain in place till 17th
Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and Secretary retired Capt Muhammad Usman briefed Chief Minister Usman Buzdar about the latest spread situation on Sunday and sought permission to lift the lockdown on retail shops, markets, shopping malls and plazas. The permission was granted.
The secretary late on Sunday withdrew the Eid lockdown order. However, the general lockdown will remain enforced till midnight on Aug 17 under which all educational and training institutes, marriage halls, business centres, expo centres, restaurants (except takeaway and home delivery), theme and amusement parks, public parks, play areas and arcades, beauty parlours and spas, cinemas and theatres will remain closed.
The ban also covers all sporting tournaments/matches (indoor and outdoor) except non-contact professional sports without spectators. All contact sports and indoor sports clubs/facilities shall remain closed. There shall also be a complete ban on gatherings of all kinds for social, religious, or any other purpose at any place, public or private.
The notification also says that all medical services and pharmacies, tyre puncture shops, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors, atta chakkis, postal/courier services, driver hotels, petrol pumps, oil depots, LPG outlets and filling plants, agriculture machinery workshops and spare parts shops, printing press, call centres (with 50 per cent staff and no public dealing), takeaway/home delivery from restaurants will remain open round the clock. Inter-city and inter-district public transport will also continue operating round the clock.
Grocery stores and karyana stores shall remain open from 9am to 7pm and churches from 7am to 5pm on Sundays.
The health department officials claimed that most teaching hospitals had no coronavirus patient under treatment and that hospital facilities had now been upgraded with more ventilators and oxygenated beds.
Chief Minister Buzdar said the smart lockdown policy as well as National Command and Operation Centre decision to increase the number of cattle markets but shrink their size had proved successful in containing the spread of coronavirus on Eidul Azha. He claimed the number of Covid-19 patients had decreased as 24 cases of infections and four deaths were reported during the past 24 hours.
Overall, he said, 2,148 patients had died of the virus in Punjab. At present, 8,586 active patients were being treated. “As many as 93,197 people got affected and 82,563 of them recovered during the whole pandemic in Punjab.”
It is learnt that the Punjab government now seems more worried about controlling dengue instead of coronavirus. Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid held a meeting with the Lahore Waste Management Company and directed that cleanliness must be ensured because solid waste and the remains of livestock sacrificed on Eidul Azha might pose a threat and increase breeding of dengue.
Along with Housing Minister Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Punjab President Ejaz Chaudhry, Dr Rashid continued visiting various areas of Lahore to monitor the lifting of solid waste and dumping at proper places.
Meanwhile, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan started a hashtag, #Saaf Punjab-Shukria Buzdar, on Twitter that soon became one of the top trends in Pakistan on the social networking website. People lauded the Punjab government for ensuring cleanliness and draining rainwater across Punjab during the Eid holidays.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2020