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CM Usman Buzdar chairs cabinet meeting: Punjab approves draft of Infectious Diseases Prevention, Control Ordinance

March 25, 2020

LAHORE: The Punjab cabinet has given in-principle approval to the draft of The Punjab Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Ordinance, 2020.

The total number of coronavirus patients is 265 in Punjab; 176 patients are quarantined in DG Khan while 59 patients are in Lahore. Similarly, 12 are in Gujrat, seven in Gujranwala, three in Jhelum, two each in Rawalpindi and Multan and one each in Faisalabad and Mandi Bahauddin.

This was disclosed by Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar during a video link media briefing about the decisions made in the 28th Cabinet meeting here Tuesday. The Cabinet paid tributes to Dr Usama Riaz of Gilgit-Baltistan who sacrificed his life while treating coronavirus patients. We also appreciated the role being played by medical teams in the treatment of coronavirus patients in Punjab, he added. The meeting was briefed about coronavirus related situation and the chief minister and his Cabinet members have announced donating their one month salary to chief minister’s fund for corona control, he added.

He said the Punjab government released a sum of Rs11 billion to the health department that was approved in the cabinet meeting. A sum of Rs2 billion has been given to PDMA besides providing Rs600 million to districts and Punjab Cabinet endorsed the decision of giving Rs1 billion to the Balochistan government, he added.

The meeting decided to start distribution of Zakat one month earlier and recommendations are being forwarded to the federal government while the Bait-ul-Maal funds are being released for their early distribution, he said. The chief minister told that the committee had been constituted to review decrease in fee of private schools during holidays and before time summer holidays in schools. The committee will submit its recommendations in seven days to take further steps, he told. Similarly, the committee has been constituted under law minister Raja Basharat to contact parliamentary parties of opposition so that joint work could be done in this difficult hour.

The cabinet gave principle approval to the draft of The Punjab Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Ordinance, 2020. Three testing laboratories will be upgraded to level 3 in Lahore and approval has been given to establish new level 3 labs in Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, DG Khan, Faisalabad and Bahawalpur. A sum of Rs620 million has been approved for it, he added.

Usman Buzdar said the cabinet permitted to arrange the services of 10,000 doctors, health professionals, paramedical staff and services of retired doctors will also be obtained. Approval has been given to provide Rs800,000 financial aid to the heirs of deceased coronavirus patients. He added that the Punjab government was working on an economic package to facilitate the masses and the finance minister would give a detailed briefing in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has also forwarded its recommendations to the federal government and Prime Minister Imran Khan will announce the economic package of the federal govt, he stated.

The ex-post facto approval of requisition for acquiring the services of Pakistan Army under Article 245 was given along with the approval of the amendment to Punjab Local Government Act, 2019. Amendment to Punjab Village, Panchayat and Neighbourhood Council Act, 2019 was also approved.

The chief minister told that cabinet agreed to delay local government elections for nine months keeping in view the prevailing situation. For this, an ordinance is being issued because May 5 was the final date of holding LG election.

The chief secretary presented a contingency plan which was approved by the cabinet. The chief minister told that ministers had been assigned duties in districts to take steps for dealing with coronavirus.

The meeting directed the health department to complete the procurement of necessary health material as soon as possible. To a question, the chief minister emphasised that implementation of the steps being taken for safety from coronavirus would be ensured at every cost as section 144 was imposed but home delivery of eatables, medicines and the business of raw material used in the making of sanitizer etc would not be affected; and in case of any problem, the administration can be approached.

To another question, he said that SOPs had been issued for mosques and advanced steps were being taken in mosques as the government was fully prepared to deal with the emergency situation.

The health department is also fully prepared and funds have also been provided to defeat coronavirus, he said. To a question, he clarified that it is not curfew nor lockdown but steps have been taken by the government to protect the lives of the people and the services of the army have also be acquired under Article 245. Provincial Ministers Yasmin Rashid, Raja Basharat, Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan, Hashim Jawan Bakht and secretary information were also present. Earlier, the chief minister presided over the 28th Cabinet meeting. The Auqaf Minister led the special prayer.