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Thursday May 23, 2024

Corona not political but national issue: Alvi

By Our Correspondent
April 09, 2020

LAHORE: President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday visited the Corona Crisis Management Centre set up by the Punjab government at the Civil Secretariat here.

He said coronavirus is not a political but a national issue and the government, entire nation and all institutions are making joint efforts to get rid of it. He expressed these views while chairing a briefing by the Punjab government on COVID-19: Prevention, Mitigation and Control at the Darbar Hall of the Civil Secretariat. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, provincial ministers Basharat Raja, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Aslam Iqbal and Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan, Punjab Chief Secretary Maj (retd) Azam Suleman, Punjab IG Police Shoaib Dastagir and relevant departments’ secretaries attended the briefing.

The president was briefed about the performance of various departments including Health Department to contain the coronavirus spread, continuation of educational activities, lockdown, heat mapping, CM's Insaf Imdad Programme and all other steps taken so far by the provincial government.

The president commended the Punjab government’s efforts in fighting coronavirus. He stressed the need for early supply of ration and financial support to deserving families whose wages/sources of income have been affected severely due to the prevailing situation. The way the country’s institutions are performing and their working is improving, he hopes that it would lay the basis for the New Pakistan, he said.

The president directed the authorities concerned to ensure that the owners of industrial units functioning presently are adhering strictly to the standard operating procedures. Secondly, these industrial labourers should be issued standard identity numbers/passes so that they could not face any difficulty on their way to workplaces and home during the lockdown and imposition of Section 144. He stressed the need for taking Ulema on board while deciding about prayers and other religious congregations, especially Taraveeh during the upcoming holy month of Ramazan if the lockdown continues for maintaining social distancing.

He said that since the Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Ordinance 2020 has been promulgated in Punjab, all other such laws existing already should be merged or set aside accordingly for smooth and effective implementation. In response to Provincial Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid’s demand for ventilators as well as hydroxychloroquine that is reportedly helping reduce corona infection duration, the president said the import of 3D/digital printing machines and its materials are banned during the lockdown; however, the commerce minister recently issued a notification allowing its import to ensures availability of 3D printed ventilators in Pakistan. He said the Ministry of Science and Technology and some other local institutions have developed ventilators which are in testing process and would be made available after their approval. However, Punjab should place its actual demand.

As far as hydroxychloroquine is concerned, he said the drug is being manufactured in various countries such as Germany, USA, France and Turkey, and the federal government has contacted Turkey in this regard. As soon as it reaches Pakistan, Punjab would also be supplied accordingly, he promised.

Chaudhry Sarwar commended the efforts and crisis management by bureaucracy, police, Health Department, doctors, paramedics and all other institutions fighting on frontline against the corona pandemic. He stressed the need for early supply of ration and financial support to poor families.

Usman Buzdar apprised the president that the provincial government has responded very quickly to the corona outbreak and released Rs 236 million to the Health Department on January 13, 2020 and another grant of Rs 14 million recently, while the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) released a total of Rs 2.3 billion to all divisional and district administrations to fight the corona pandemic, besides establishing quarantine centres and corona telemedicine helpline centres to facilitate and guide people about anti-corona measures at their homes.

Similarly, the Punjab government also gave approval for recruitment of 10,000 doctors so as to effectively cope with the dreaded virus, he said and mentioned that monetary support for each deserving family has been enhanced from Rs 4,000 to Rs 12,000, while the number of beneficiaries has also been increased from 1.7 million to 2.5 million families under the CM Insaf Imdad Programme and Ehsaas Programme of the federal government.

Dr Yasmin Rashid told the meeting suspected corona patients are being treated at quarantine centres, while those with positive COVID-19 are being hospitalized. On the directions of the Punjab chief minister, she added, BSL-III laboratories are being established at divisional headquarters in the province. She said that corona testing capacity would increase three times, if the province is provided with digital extraction kits, as manual extraction process is very slow.

The meeting was told that Taleem Ghar Programme has been launched to ensure continuation of education through online medium and cable TV. Currently, lectures are being delivered for class one to eight and there are around 12 million students in 54,000 schools across the province. If a student misses a lecture, he/she could find the same on the website, etc.

The President was briefed by Momim Agha, additional chief secretary, Home Department, Punjab, that this centre is working round the clock under the Home Department and every matter about coronavirus is being monitored. The information collected by the centre is immediately delivered to the departments concerned besides monitoring the situation in all districts of the province.

The President directed advertising all departmental helplines and stressed close inter-departmental coordination. He directed maintaining updated data of the coronavirus pandemic.