LAHORE: The Punjab government has disbursed over Rs6.74 billion among the poor under the Prime Minister’s Ehsaas Kafalat Programme (EKP) during the past three days.
Presiding over a meeting to review coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and the ongoing financial assistance disbursement campaign across, the province, Punjab Chief Secretary Azam Suleman Khan highlighted that the government had disbursed over Rs6.74 to 559,849 people.
He pointed out that Rs2.88 billion was disbursed among 235,000 persons under the EKP on Saturday and the distribution was still underway.
He directed the officials concerned to ensure strict implementation of safety measures at cash disbursement centres to avoid the spread of the viral disease, which has already infected over 5,100 citizens across the country and claimed 88 lives.
The meeting was attended by Inspector General of Police Shoaib Dastagir, Lahore Division Commissioner Saif Anjum and officers concerned whereas divisional commissioners and regional police officers joined through video link.
The participants of the meeting were told that healthcare facilities for the coronavirus patients have been increased by establishing field hospitals in the province.
“The protection of people, as well as doctors and paramedics from this highly contagious virus is the priority of the government,” Suleman said.
The chief secretary ordered officers to ensure conditional opening of industries on the basis of export orders and implementation of relevant standard operating procedures (SOPs) there, besides taking on board chambers of commerce to obtain details of export orders of the factories. Meanwhile, the Lahore district administration has opened another cash disbursement camp to facilitate the poor strata of the society.
Lahore Deputy Commissioner Danish Afzal said cash disbursement under the EKP was underway through 31 centres across the provincial metropolis.
During a visit to an aid disbursement camp, Additional Deputy Commissioner Asghar Joya highlighted that the local administration has made satisfactory arrangements for seating, queue management, availability of drinking water and washrooms at all distribution centres in the metropolis.
A spokesperson for the local administration told The Express Tribune that multiple counters were set up at each cash disbursement centres to avoid crowd and maintain the SOPs of social distancing announced by the health authorities.
He said that during the past two days each centre had disbursed financial aid to 100-150 families and the camps will remain functional till completion of the process.
He said keeping in view the social distancing and safety measure and transparency of aid disbursement, the name of the beneficiary along with the CNIC number was recorded in a register and then he or she was told to wash hands.
After this medical professionals screen the beneficiaries for any possible disease. On their turn, the cash amount of Rs12,000 is paid to each of them, he concluded.
Fearing the local transmission of virus following the emergence of dozens of COVID-19 cases, the Lahore administration on Saturday sealed several areas including Raiwind city, Sikandria Colony at Samanabad, Bedian Road, China Scheme Gujarpura, Begum Kot at Shahdara, Chah Meeran Shadbagh, Small Industries Society Defence, Rustom Park, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Rehmanpura, Wahdat Colony, Railways Colony’s Engine Shed and Saddar.
The Lahore deputy commissioner said the government imposed the restrictions after 66 COVID-19 patients were confirmed in these areas. He underlined that the restrictions were on unnecessary movement in these hotspots. The process of screening of 574 suspected patients in the sealed localities has been initiated.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2020.