–Testing capacity would increase three times if province provided with digital extraction kits, says Dr Yasmin
–Locally manufactured ventilators in testing process and to be made available after approval
LAHORE: President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday said that coronavirus was not a political but a national issue and the government, entire nation and all institutions were making joint efforts to get rid of the pandemic.
He expressed these views while chairing a briefing by the Punjab government regarding ‘COVID-19: Prevention, Mitigation and Control’ here at the Darbar Hall in the Civil Secretariat. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, Chief Minister (CM) Sardar Usman Buzdar, provincial ministers Muhammad Basharat Raja, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Mian Aslam Iqbal and Fyyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan, Punjab Chief Secretary Maj (r) Azam Suleman Khan, Punjab IG Police Shoaib Dastagir and concerned secretaries attended the meeting.
The president was briefed about the measures to contain coronavirus spread, a continuation of educational activities, lockdown and exemptions, heat mapping, CM’s Insaf Imdad Programme and all other steps taken against the virus by the provincial government so far.
He commended the Punjab government’s efforts in fighting coronavirus but stressed on the need for early supply of ration and financial support for needy and deserving families whose source of income had been affected due to prevailing situation.
The president directed the authorities concerned to ensure that owners of those industrial units functioning presently were adhering strictly to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the advisory/guidelines to protect their workers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Secondly, these industrial labourers should also be issued standard identity numbers or passes so that they could not face any difficulty on their way to the workplaces and home during the lockdown and imposition of Section 144.
Dr Alvi also stressed the need for taking ulema on board while deciding about prayers and other religious congregations, especially Taraveeh during the upcoming holy month of Ramzan if the lockdown continues for maintaining social distancing.
He said that since Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Ordinance, 2020 had been promulgated in Punjab and all other such laws existing already should be merged or set aside accordingly for smooth and effective implementation in this regard.
In response to Provincial Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid’s demand for ventilators as well as hydroxychloroquine tablets, the president said that import of 3D/digital printing machines and relevant materials were banned during the lockdown; however, the commerce minister recently issued a notification allowing its import to ensure the availability of 3D printed ventilators in the country.
“The Ministry of Science and Technology and some other local institutions have also developed ventilators which are in the testing process and would be made available after approval,” he added.
“However, Punjab should place its actual demand so that the federal government could provide them as soon these were available with it. As far as hydroxychloroquine was concerned, the drug was being manufactured in various countries such as Germany, USA, France and Turkey, and the federal government had contacted Turkey in this regard. As soon it reaches Pakistan, Punjab would also be supplied accordingly,” the president promised.
Dr Yasmin Rashid also said that corona testing capacity would increase three times if the province was provided with digital extraction kits, as manual extraction process was very slow.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar commended the efforts and crisis management by bureaucracy, police, health department, doctors, paramedics and all other institutions fighting on the frontlines and stressed the need for early supply of ration and financial support to poor families.
CM Buzdar then apprised the president regarding the provincial government’s quick response to the corona outbreak by releasing Rs236 million to the Health Department on January 13, and another grant of Rs14 million, adding that the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) also released Rs2.3 billion to all divisional and district administrations, besides establishing quarantine centres and corona telemedicine helpline centres to facilitate and guide people about anti-corona measures.
“Similarly, the Punjab government also approved the recruitment of 10,000 doctors to effectively cope with the virus,” he said, mentioning that monetary support for each deserving family had been enhanced from Rs4,000 to Rs12,000, while the number of beneficiaries had also been increased from 1.7 million to 2.5 million families under the CM Insaf Imdad Programme and Ehsas Programme of the federal government.