LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Monday announced further restrictions effective immediately on activities contributing to the spread of the novel coronavirus in the province.
Briefing the media after the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus, Buzdar said the government of Punjab could not impose restrictions on economic activities.
He urged the masses to show responsibility and follow the SOPs given by the health authorities. "We cannot control the pandemic without help from the masses," he said.
All public and private offices to follow work-from-home (WFH) policy for 50% staff.
Rail services to operate at 70% capacity.
The "third wave of coronavirus is more dangerous than the previous ones", CM Buzdar said.
While sharing the details regarding Lahore's worsening coronavirus situation, he said the positivity ratio was 21% over the past 24 hours, dubbing it "a matter of grave concern" and adding that "the health system is under pressure due to the rising number of cases".
An effective lockdown would be imposed om the districts where the positivity ratio was 12% to save lives, he added.
"There will be a complete ban on indoor and outdoor services at restaurants and only takeaway and home delivery will be allowed," he said, adding that sports, cultural, and other activities will also remain suspended.
The restrictions have come into effect immidtaley and will remain in place until April 11.
“Public transport and construction industry will continue to function with strict SOPs,” the CM said.
Earlier, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan had said the government’s directives had not been followed by the public and the policy of imposing smart lockdowns in COVID-19 hotspots was not achieving the desired results.
Awan's statement came as the COVID-19 situation in the provincial capital worsened further despite lockdowns and other restrictions.
The session, chaired by CM Buzdar, was attended by provincial ministers Raja Basharat, Dr Yasmin Rahsid, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Murad Raas, Yasir Humayon, Firdous Ashiq Awan, and other senior government officials.
The COVID-19 surge in Lahore is overwhelming hospitals as the death count and occupancy rate have experienced a spike ahead of what could be the worst stretch of the pandemic to date in the province.
One of the largest state-owned health facilities in Lahore, Mayo Hospital, has a total of 325 beds in its coronavirus ward. On Sunday, 253 beds — or over 77% of total capacity — were occupied, according to data seen by Geo.tv.
"The situation is pretty bad here," a senior doctor at Mayo Hospital told Geo.tv on the condition of anonymity. "We are not accepting serious patients anymore because our Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are working at full capacity."
It is pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday had ruled the possibility of lockdown, saying "we don't have resources to feed the poor."
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Federal ministers, advisers, and special assistants will attend the meeting