Punjab’s emergency

The government has imposed Section 144 for three weeks

Photo: Rahat Dar

The government of Punjab has declared a health emergency in the province in a bid to contain coronavirus after the pandemic hit 162 countries. Among some of the measures taken by the government is the imposition of Section 144 for three weeks under which more than four people cannot gather in public.

The quarantine facilities and isolation wards have been placed under the Specialised Health Care and Medical Education Department (SHC and MED) and divisional commissioners.

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Pilgrims returning from Iran are being treated as the main carriers of the virus into Pakistan. “It was not possible to arrange stay of all pilgrims on the Taftan border because of the high influx of pilgrims. At least 860 pilgrims from Taftan have been sent to Dera Ghazi Khan in a quarantine facility,” says Silwat Saeed, the special secretary SHC and MED. The pilgrims will complete 14 days in quarantine. If the symptoms appear, the patients will then be sent to hospitals for treatment. A team of doctors from Lahore, including Dr Ahmed Nadeem, the AMS at Services Hospital Lahore, has been sent to DG Khan to train doctors there.

Five hospitals including Services Hospital in Lahore, Allied Hospital in Faisalabad, Nishtar Hospital in Multan, Allama Iqbal Memorial Teaching Hospital in Sialkot and Benazir Bhutto Hospital in Rawalpindi have been designated as focal points for management of coronavirus patients. “The department has directed all tertiary care hospitals to arrange personal protection equipment (PPEs) for the staff of the hospitals,” says Saeed.

She said that a committee had been constituted to identify health facilities on the outskirts of Lahore. The committee identified Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre (PKLI and RC) in Lahore where coronavirus cases could be treated. Similar facilities have also been identified at Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital (RTEH) in Muzaffargarh and in Rawalpindi. According to Saeed, High dependency units (HDUs) have been established in all teaching hospitals and isolation wards have been established in all district headquarters hospitals.

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The department has deployed doctors and paramedical staffs at international airports in Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Multan and Rahim Yar Khan to work round the clock, she added.

Meanwhile, Young Doctors in Multan and Lahore closed the outdoor patient department and refused to attend to patients until they were provided safety kits. During a press briefing, Dr Yasmin Rashid, the health minister said it was not a time to go on a strike when the country was facing a serious threat. She said that the government had declared a health emergency in the province so as to ensure maximum people try to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary exposure.

The writer is a reporter at The News. He can be reached at [email protected]

Coronavirus: Punjab’s emergency