Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Saturday said the provincial government will initiate and consider legal action against those involved in organising rallies that pose a risk of spreading the coronavirus.
The chief minister expressed the views while responding to a question during a press conference in Lahore. His remarks come as the 11-party opposition alliance — the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — is gearing up to stage yet another rally, as part of its anti-government campaign, in Lahore on December 13
Read: It's a busy week for the PDM as it mulls over options before the Rubicon is crossed
Speaking to the media, Buzdar said: "We all know about the orders of the courts and the National Command and Operation Centre [...] any assembly which presents a risk of spreading Covid-19 is unlawful and legal action will be initiated against it.”
He maintained that the government was not specifically targeting anyone and, for its part, had “reduced and curtailed its demonstrations and gatherings".
"All standard operating procedures (SOPs) are strictly followed at government meetings".
Earlier today, Senator Faisal Javed said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had made it clear that the PDM will not be stopped from holding their next rally in Lahore.
"However, cases will be registered against those responsible for this illegal [gathering]. The second wave of the pandemic is very dangerous. An increase in cases due to [the PDM's] rallies is endangering the people's lives and the economy."
In a clip from an interview that will be aired later today, the premier stated the PDM will not be stopped from organising the Lahore rally but legal action will be initiated against everyone involved.
Rising cases in Lahore
Addressing the current Covid-19 situation during the press conference, Buzdar said the infection rate in Lahore had increased from three per cent to 10pc, a situation that was "highly concerning".
He said in light of rising infections, more than “2,000 smart lockdowns have been implemented across Punjab while 625 smart lockdowns have been implemented in Lahore alone”.
He warned that if the numbers kept increasing like this, then the provincial government will have no choice but to take “highly stringent measures”.
He added that the situation in Lahore was very concerning. "According to the Ministry of National Health Services, Lahore is at the top of the list of active Covid-19 patients.
“If precautions are not taken, then no one can stop the spread of Covid-19,” he said, adding that it was a matter of the “nation’s health and life".
"There can be no compromise on this."
ICUs, HDUs made operational
Talking about the steps taken to control the coronavirus outbreak, he said that hospitals across the province have been alerted while ventilators and other equipment was also being provided. He added that high dependency units (HDUs) at all of Lahore’s teaching hospitals had also been re-activated.
He said that the Lahore Expo Centre had also been made operational.
On Friday, the Punjab government issued directions to make operational intensive care units (ICUs) and HDUs of three teaching hospitals in Lahore and the Expo Centre to admit serious Covid-19 patients.
A high alert was issued to the hospitals following a rapid increase in the number of critical patients and rising trend in death rate in Punjab. The Expo Centre, was re-activated for Covid-19 management after it was ‘closed down’ in July after the Punjab government enforced the home isolation policy.
Similarly, after a delay of months, the government allowed three public teaching hospitals in Lahore to make operational HDUs and ICUs to admit critical patients.
A notification was issued by the specialised healthcare and medical education department to the heads of Lahore General Hospital, Services and Jinnah Hospital.
The notification directed the hospitals to operationalise the HDUs/ICUs at the same level as these were during the month of June.