LAHORE: Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has said all the appeals made to the opposition parties to avoid public gatherings have fallen on deaf ears and now the government is all set to establish its writ to save people’s lives when coronavirus is raging in major cities yet again.
Dr Rashid said non-compliance with coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) in letter and spirit could push the government to impose a complete lockdown that would largely affect businesses and people would not be able to earn their bread and butter.
Speaking at a news conference at the chief minister’s secretariat on Sunday, Dr Rashid said the second wave of coronavirus had started taking its toll with increasing numbers of deaths and infections, particularly in big cities like Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad.
Despite all appeals for avoiding public gatherings and strictly observing SOPs, she said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) public meeting in Gujranwala increased the coronavirus infection rate to four per cent from a limited number of patients, and the same happened after a similar gathering in Peshawar.
Minister says Multan’s infection rate of 12pc can jump after proposed PDM rally in city
“Multan is already experiencing a 12pc infection rate (that came down from 31pc in the last 25 days) and the proposed PDM public gathering in the city will yet again propel the rate,” she stressed.
Dr Rashid said PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also got infected with Covid-19 despite the fact that he was continuously wearing a face mask in public. Mr Bhutto-Zardari would get the best treatment facilities, but the poor people attending the Multan rally eventually land in public hospitals in Punjab, she added.
Asserting that poor compliance with SOPs led to a resurgence of the disease, she said the coronavirus infection rate would surge where public meetings were held. She also regretted that the public had refused to comply with the SOPs and the country was faced with increasing cases from the minimal level that the government achieved and the international organisations, including the UN and World Health Organisation, praised.
Sharing the latest data, the minister said Punjab had so far recorded 2,979 deaths, including 19 during the last 24 hours. Some 997 patients had been admitted to hospitals in Punjab, including 145 on ventilators and 475 on oxygenated beds. She said 16,204 infected patients had quarantined themselves, adding that 2,638 frontline health workers had also got infected.
The minister said the government had imposed a smart lockdown in 2,030 locations and isolated 40,000 people to check the spread of the disease. The infection rate in Lahore and Gujranwala was 4pc each, Multan 12pc and Rawalpindi 11pc.
In Multan, she said, the coronavirus bed occupancy rate had reached 65pc and 17 ventilators were currently available at designated hospitals of the city.She said the government had increased its testing capacity and was conducting around 25,000 tests daily. The Punjab government had 2,500 ventilators and 10,000 oxygenated beds, she stated.
Dr Rashid said an increase in infections would lead to closure of businesses that will not only push the economy down, but also people to face hunger. “Taking preventive measures is the only solution until a vaccine is available,” she said, adding that the federal government would ensure early procurement of vaccines and begin vaccination of the vulnerable groups first.
She also said the MTI Act would soon be implemented in the Sialkot Medical College and King Edward Medical College, which had been made a constituent college of the King Edward Medical University.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2020