LAHORE               -              Expressing concern over rising number of COVID-19 cases in Lahore, a civil and military huddle, on Friday, decided to devise a separate policy for the provincial metropolis to contain the pandemic.    

The meeting took a detailed review of anti-coronavirus steps and future roadmap of phase-wise easing of lockdown. The meeting expressed concern over the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Lahore city and decided to devise a separate policy to overcome the spread in the provincial metropolis. A committee, constituted under ACS (Home), was to formulate recommendations in this regard.

Punjab Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Corps Commander Lahore, Lt. Gen. Majid Ehsan, GOC 10-Division, Maj. Gen. Aniqur Rehman Malik, DG Rangers Punjab, Maj. Gen. Aamir Majeed, Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik, IG Police Shoaib Dastagir, ACS (Home), Commissioner Lahore, secretaries of health, food, agriculture and information departments, CCPO Lahore and medical experts attended the meeting.

According to an official handout, Corps Commander Lt. Gen Majid Ehsan observed that implementation on a separate line of action was necessary keeping in view the prevailing situation of Lahore city. He also reiterated the commitment of continuing all-out assistance to the Punjab government and added that the army was standing with the people in this hour of trial.

The chief minister stated that the decision of phase-wise easing of lockdown had been made with collective consultation and permission of opening small markets and shops would be allowed after their zoning.

The meeting decided to utilize every resource to prevent the spread of the pandemic besides reviewing progress made on wheat procurement campaign. It was decided that violation of business-related SOPs would not be tolerated while easing the lockdown and indiscriminate action would be initiated in case of any violation. The meeting also paid tributes to the services of doctors and paramedics.

The chief minister stressed that business houses resuming their activities, would have to ensure compliance of SOPs. He told the meeting that Punjab had achieved the daily testing capacity of six thousand persons. “So far, one hundred and seventeen thousand persons have been tested in Punjab while smart sampling has also being started. As many as 214, out of 4,100 persons have been tested positive”, he informed the meeting. 

The CM maintained that public cooperation was essential to defeating the pandemic and the citizens would have to be socially responsible to remain safe from this disease. He appealed to the citizens to avoid going out needlessly adding that Pak army had always supported the nation during difficult times. “The political and military leadership is amicably dealing with the coronavirus challenge in collaboration with the citizens”, he remarked.

The CM further told that 2.7 million tons of wheat had been purchased while the food department had an overall stock of 2.9 million tons of wheat. he said that 86 percent gunny bags had been issued to the farmers and indiscriminate action was in progress for illegal wheat hoarding. Approval had been granted to include wheat in the anti-hoarding ordinance, he explained.

The meeting expressed satisfaction over progress in wheat procurement and the CM thanked the military leadership for extending cooperation to deal with the corona pandemic.

Meanwhile, with 35 new deaths, the confirmed coronavirus cases swelled to 26,435 across the country as at least 598 new cases were reported during last 24 hours.

An official of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on coronavirus said on Friday that the total 599 deaths had been reported from the disease with thirty-five reported during last 24 hours.

He said that 7,530 patients had been recovered. He added total 257,247 tests had been conducted while in last 24 hours 11,993 tests were conducted. He said 9,691 cases were reported from Sindh, 10,033 from Punjab, 3,956 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 558 from Islamabad, 394 from Gilgit Baltistan, 1,725 from Balochistan and 78 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

He said that in total confirmed cases, 7,662 active cases were reported from Sindh, 5,788 from Punjab, 2,763 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 482 from Islamabad, 99 from Gilgit Baltistan, 1,492 from Balochistan and 20 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). He said that 176 deaths had been reported from Sindh, 183 from Punjab, 209 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, four from Islamabad, three from Gilgit Baltistan, 24 from Balochistan and no any death was reported from AJK

He said that 1,853 patients had recovered in Sindh, 4,062 in Punjab, 984 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 72 in Islamabad, 292 Gilgit Baltistan, 209 in Balochistan and 58 in AJK.