The Punjab government announced on Monday that lockdowns will be enforced in districts with a Covid-19 positivity of more than 12 per cent from April 1 to curb the spread of the disease.
"The lockdown will continue till April 11," said Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar while speaking to media. He added that this will be reviewed by the cabinet committee on Covid-19 after seven days.
Buzdar stated that the provincial government will not impose any restrictions on economic activities or industries. "The construction, transport, goods and industrial sectors will continue to operate as per regular according to standard operating procedures (SOPs)," he said.
The Punjab districts with a positivity rate higher than 12pc, as of March 28, include:
- Lahore - 17pc
- Faisalabad - 15pc
- Rawalpindi - 15pc
- Multan - 12pc
- Sargodha - 12pc
- Sialkot - 12pc
The chief minister said that there will be a complete ban on wedding events and other gatherings in the province. "It was also decided to close down the mass transit transport system which includes the Orange Line Metro Train and the Speedo bus service."
There will be also a complete ban on indoor and outdoor dining at all restaurants and hotels, Buzdar said. "However, takeaway and home delivery will be allowed."
He said that restrictions will continue to be in place on sporting, cultural and social activities. "Parks will be closed. Commercial timings for bazaars and markets will be till 6pm, while shops will remain closed two days of the week."
Buzdar warned that the situation could worsen if SOPs are not implemented and observed. "You will protect yourself and your family members by wearing face masks," he said.
The chief minister said as many as 22 labs were functioning in Punjab where more than 15,000 Covid-19 tests were carried out daily.
A total of 125 vaccination centres have been set up in the province so far where 454,000 vaccine doses have arrived and where 121,527 health workers have been administered the first dose, Buzdar told the presser.
He said 54,885 health workers had also received their second vaccine dose, while 151,447 people over the age of 60 had been inoculated.
'Third wave is more dangerous'
At the start of his press conference, the chief minister said that the current wave of the pandemic was more dangerous than the first and the second.
"Compared to the first two phases, the third phase is much more intense. Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad and Multan have more positive cases."
Buzdar stated that the positivity rate in Lahore over the last 24 hours was recorded as 21pc, which was an alarming statistic. "Because of the third wave, hospitals are rapidly filling up and the health system is under pressure," he added.
Asad urges enforcement of SOPs
Meanwhile, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, in a letter to all the federating units, urged them to "ensure employment of all administrative tools for across the board implementation of NCOC's (National Command and Operation Centre) instructions", especially those related to political and social gatherings.
"Violations of NCOC instructions, specifically in political and social gatherings have been observed. Apart from contributing to disease spread, these violations are obstructing effective enforcement of SOPs in other sectors too and sending wrong signals to the general public," Umar wrote in the letter.
He pointed out that all the federating units had "performed well" during the first and second waves of the pandemic but the enforcement of SOPs had "remained weak" during the third wave.
"I am sure that we will be able to thwart further spread of this contagion with concerted efforts," he added.
With additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui in Islamabad.