Pindi mulls curfew-like lockdown for weekend

Crackdown to be launched against shopkeepers selling goods at stalls


​ Our Correspondents May 15, 2020
PHOTO: Reuters

RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government is mulling plans to enforce a curfew-like lockdown for three days from Friday to Sunday in the garrison city as it declared the district as “highly sensitive” after it recorded an exponential rise in cases.

Sources told The Express Tribune that during the curfew-like lockdown on the weekend, people will not be allowed to move around unnecessarily.

Further, the government has instructed all representatives of local bodies across the province to regularly visit local markets from Monday to check the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) as prescribed by the district government.

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Similarly, the provincial government has also decided crackdown against shopkeepers who have not been exempted from the lockdown but are selling their wares on stalls set up outside their shops.

Further, Rawalpindi Deputy Commissioner (DC) Captain (retired) Anwarul Haq has directed strict action against shops, which are allowed to operate from Monday to Thursday but are found open on the weekend.

The decision was taken during a meeting on Thursday chaired by DC and attended by officials of the district administration, police and the paramilitary Rangers.

To ensure the lockdown orders, the security forces along with district officials would start patrolling in the city’s small and big markets from 9am. The shops found opened will not only be sealed but fined heavily as well, DC warned.

‘Highly sensitive’

The Rawalpindi district has become just the second district in the province after Lahore to be declared as ‘highly sensitive’ for Covid-19.

A district official, who spoke to The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity as he was not allowed to speak to the media, said that an exponential increase in the number of Covid-19 patients was seen in the district after the lockdown restrictions were relaxed ahead of Eidul Fitr.

With a large number of patients visiting hospitals daily, the health facilities are reportedly facing a shortage of facilities.

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Citing official data, he said that the total cases in Rawalpindi district have soared past the 1,200 mark and around 50 new cases are being reported every day.

“If it continues at this rate, it will become hard to accommodate the patients”, the official warned.

Subsequently, the fear of coronavirus has taken over the minds of everyone so much that more and more people are getting themselves tested for the pandemic virus.

“The hospitals, laboratories, filter and community clinics have to deal with hundreds of patients daily who want to get themselves tested for the pandemic virus,” the official said, adding that the situation has bogged down the health system.

With the number of suspected patients rising, in part due to a large number of Pakistanis returning from abroad, the official said that the test reports which earlier used to come back in a day from the National Institute of Health (NIH), now take up to five days.

Sources in the district administration said that Rawalpindi commissioner and deputy commissioner (DC) has directed the related authorities to enhance the facilities.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2020.

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