The Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department on Sunday directed health facilities in the province to implement certain standard operating procedures (SOPs) ahead of an expected rise in the temperature.

Earlier this week, the the Meteorological Depart­ment warned that the presence of high pressure in the upper atmosphere would result in heatwave conditions in most parts of the country, especially Punjab and Sindh from May 21 and a severe heatwave from May 23 to 27.

Daytime temperatures were “likely to remain 4 to 6 degrees centigrade above normal” in Sindh and Punjab from May 21 to 23 and six to 8°C from May 23 to 27, it said.

On Friday, the Punjab government had reduced the timings of all public and private schools from May 18 to May 31.

Today, the provincial health department issued directives to the chief executive officers of all district health authorities, and the medical superintendents of tertiary care hospitals, district headquarter hospitals (DHQs) and tehsil headquarter hospitals (THQs).

The letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said: “According to the weather advisory from the Pakistan Meteorological Department, [a] heatwave is expected to hit all areas of Punjab from May 21 to May 27, especially in the southern districts of Punjab i.e. Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan.”

“This is [expected] to cause [a] serious impact on the daily routines and lives of the people across Punjab,” it said, adding that certain SOPs should be implemented.

These included establishing heatwave counters at tertiary care hospitals as well as DHQs and THQs, which provided information to the public about heatwaves as well as preventative measures.

The health department also directed officials to hold coordination meetings with all stakeholders and “establish the responsibility matrix of each department”.

Further, officials were told to disseminate information to the general public on how to avoid the heat and limit outdoor activity, proper hydration and how to handle an emergency situation.

“All water coolers, with plenty of clean water and air conditioners shall be functional across all health facilities, without fail,” it said, adding that all medicines should be made “available across all health facilities round the clock”.

Further, the department told officials to keep a close liaison with all district/tehsil administrations, Rescue 1122, district disaster management authorities, and to respond to any emergency situation immediately.

Moreover, the health department also detailed educational messages which could be used to inform the public. These included limiting outdoor activity, using protective measures when out in the sunlight and avoiding “laborious work in direct sunlight”.

“Drink plenty of clean drinking water … to keep yourself hydrated and avoid carbonated beverages,” it said, saying that mist fans and air conditioners could be used to keep the environment “in [a] tolerable limit”.

Meanwhile, Irfan Ali Kathia, the director general of the Punjab Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), said that citizens were being informed about the dangers of heatwaves through online and social media.

“All departments can fight heat wave with joint and mutual cooperation,” he said in a statement. He said that citizens were requested to take precautionary measures and avoid movement in strong sunlight.

“Do not step out of the house unnecessarily. Wear light coloured cotton clothes,” the PDMA official said.

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