Several localities in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan have been declared as coronavirus hotspots and put under lockdown with immediate effect, according to notifications from the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department released late Monday, after 400 new cases were reported province wide for the first time since July 18.
The notifications said there had been a "constant increase in positivity percentage and prevalence of Covid-19 in the province of Punjab during the last two weeks which poses a serious and imminent threat to public health", adding that all possible measures needed to be taken to control the spread of the virus.
According to the notifications, following areas in the three cities were put under lockdown "with immediate effect" until November 19:
- New Muslim Town
- Raza, Sikandar and Umar blocks of Iqbal Town
- Certain blocks in Garden Town
- Cavalary Ground
- DHA Phase 1 (AA Block)
- DHA Phase 6 (L Sector, A Sector)
- Askari 11
- Certain parts of Gulshan-i-Ravi
- Fauji Foundation University, New Lalazar
- Government Girls Highschool, Kahuta
- Satellite Town
- Abbasi Abad
- Naqshband Colony
- Gulgasht Colony/ Khairabad
- Mepco Colony
- Khwajabad/ Multan Kacheri
- Sadat Colony
The notifications said all markets, shopping malls, restaurants and offices would remain closed in these areas while movement would be restricted and all public gatherings would be banned.
Grocery stores, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors and petrol pumps would be allowed to remain open between 9am and 7pm on all days of the week. Milk shops, fish and meat shops, and bakeries would be allowed to open from 7am to 7pm. All medical services, including hospitals, clinics and pharmacies would remain open 24 hours a day, the notification said.
The measures come as Punjab reported more than 400 daily cases on Tuesday for the first time since July. The government's coronavirus portal showed the province recorded 407 new infections in the last 24 hours, taking its total to 107,329. The province last reported more than 400 cases on July 18, when it confirmed 442 infections.
According to the official figures, from July 21 to Oct 23, Lahore had been reporting less than 100 daily cases. Since Oct 24, however, the city has been reporting over a 100 cases and on Monday, accounted for 174 out of the total 345 new cases in Punjab.
Of the total new cases in the province yesterday, 50 tested positive for the virus in Multan and 41 in Rawalpindi.
Others were reported from DG Khan, Narowal, Sialkot, Gujrat, Sargodha, Mianwali, Kasur, Bahawalnagar, Muzaffargarh, Faisalabad, Lodhran, Gujranwala, Bahawalpur, Okara, Toba Tek Singh, Mandi Bahauddin, Sahiwal, Khanewal, Vehari, Khushab, Jhang and Chiniot.
Meanwhile, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday observed that the Covid-19 positivity ratio is rapidly increasing in major cities, with the rate exceeding 15 per cent in at least three cities across the country.
Multan had the second highest positivity rate across the country at 15.97 per cent, behind only Hyderabad at 16.59pc. Lahore (5.37pc) and Rawalpindi (4.63pc) were also declared among the top 15 cities with the highest positivity ratios.
Separately, a special meeting of the Cabinet Committee for Anti-Corona held at Chief Minister’s Office took notice of the violation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) in markets and businesses and decided to shut down all such places.
Speaking on the occasion, Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid said there is an ample stock of essential medicines and PPEs.
"The health department will buy more PCR kits for tests," she claimed.
Industries Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal said every necessary measure would be taken to control the second wave of coronavirus in the province, according to a report by Radio Pakistan.
The meeting also decided to declare the Rawalpindi Institute of Urology as a dedicated hospital for treating coronavirus patients.