In wake of incessant increase in daily coronavirus cases, the Punjab government has decided to extend smart lockdown in 18 districts with Covid-19 hotspots till April 26.
Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department has announced cities with a coronavirus positive test ratio of over 8% would have a complete ban on all sort of public gatherings, including outdoor wedding functions and religious and political gatherings.
It also imposed an embargo on the opening of shrines and entertainment venues, like cinemas, theatres and galleries to check the spreading virus.
The departmental statistics showed that almost all big cities, including Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Chiniot, Hafizabad, Kasur, Nankana Sahib, Pakpattan, Toba Tek Singh and Sheikhupura, fall in the list of areas having coronavirus positive test ration of over 8%.
As per safety standard operating procedures (SOPs), the department has allowed metro train operations with a limited loading capacity of 70%. All business centres in the province will continue to observe reduced business hours till 6:00 pm and would remain close Saturday and Sunday.
The safety SOPs state that half of the staff in all public and private offices would be required to work from home, all medical services, pharmacies, medical stores, laboratories, collection points, hospitals, and clinics would remain open 24 hours a day. Grocery shops, convenience stores, poultry and meat shops, bakeries, flour mills, greengrocers, bread ovens and petrol pumps would also remain open.
Punjab Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department Secretary Barrister Nabeel Ahmed Awan has disclosed that as many as 175,327 corona patients had been recovered in 200 public sector hospitals being run under the control of Specialised and Primary and Secondary Healthcare departments while 697 during the last 24 hours.
He highlighted that 6,473 beds are reserved in all government-owned hospitals for corona patients, out of which 4,118 beds are unoccupied. Likewise, 1,567 beds reserved in government hospitals of the provincial metropolis and 743 beds are vacant so far, he added.
In view of the surging corona pandemic, Awan said the Specialised Healthcare Department has arranged 3,086 beds in isolation wards of all government hospitals in the province, out of which, 2,377 beds are vacant. However, 442 beds for corona patients are reserved in isolation wards set up in public hospitals of Lahore and 301 beds are unoccupied.
In addition, 2,739 beds are also reserved in High Dependency Units (HDUs) for patients suffering from coronavirus in all hospitals of the Punjab government and 1,434 beds are vacant while, in hospitals of Lahore, 875 beds reserved in HDU and 390 beds are unoccupied, Awan added.
On Monday the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) had turned down the Punjab government’s recommendation to impose complete lockdown in districts having over 10% coronavirus infection rate.
The NCOC has directed provincial and local administrations to strictly implement the precautionary standard operating procedures as it observed weak enforcement of its decisions.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2021.