LAHORE         -             Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar Thursday said that Punjab government was in the process of completing the spadework for establishment of South Punjab Civil Secretariat.

“Funds have been allocated in the provincial budget for Southern Punjab secretariat and a meeting has also been called in the CM Office to work out the modalities,” he said while talking to senior journalists at a meeting held to review steps taken by the government to control the spread of Coronavirus.

Usman Buzdar further stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan would be given a detailed briefing on the establishment of southern Punjab Secretariat next week. To a question about his working relationship with the PML-Q, the Chief Minister said, he had cordial relations with the coalition partner.

Usman Buzdar apprised the journalists about the steps being taken by the Punjab government to deal with the coronavirus. He stated that coronavirus had spread in more than 80 countries where 95 thousand people had been affected by it. The number of affectees in China were 80 thousand while more than 53 thousand patients had been recovered. Meanwhile, more than 3200 patients had lost their lives, he added. He told that number of coronavirus patients were five in Pakistan while no coronavirus case had been reported in Punjab. However, comprehensive SOPs were being implemented to deal with the coronavirus threat, he added.

The Chief Minister observed that media’s role was important for public sensitization adding that Punjab government started precautionary measures many days before reporting of coronavirus case in Pakistan.

He said that a cabinet committee had been constituted to keep a vigilant eye on a daily basis. Similarly, he added, Rs236 million had been released for the procurement of necessary equipment and high dependency units had been set up in the hospitals of central, north and south Punjab. Similarly, foreigners’ screening was being done at airports and other entry points, he added. He said the Punjab Government was in close contact with the Federal Government and situation was being monitored round-the-clock. The Punjab government was ready to deal with any situation and he had held meetings as well as visited coronavirus monitoring control room, he added.

The coronavirus diagnostic facility was available in Lahore and pilgrims coming from Iran had also been screened. Similarly, a working group had been constituted to take steps, he further said.

Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said the screening of more than three thousand Chinese had been completed and the situation was normal in Punjab. Necessary arrangements had been made in hospitals and it was also imperative to create public awareness. Industries Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal said mask was not required for a healthy human being but essential for doctors and other hospital staff.

The Information Minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan said, the media had always played a constructive role for creating public awareness and added that we need to develop awareness for safety from coronavirus. Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht said steps were being taken for the availability of essential items. Energy Minister Muhammad Akhtar Malik said that people should not worry about and adopt precautionary measures as chances of recovery of coronavirus patients were greater.

Secretary Primary & Secondary Healthcare briefed about dealing with the coronavirus. Mussarat Jamshed Cheema MPA, Chief Secretary, IG Police, ACS (Home), administrative secretaries and high officials were also present.

– INAUGURATES OPEN DEFECATION-FREE PUNJAB PROJECT

Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar inaugurated Open Defecation-free Punjab Project at his office on Thursday.

Addressing the ceremony, the Chief Minister said that this project directly related to the health of the people as more than 13 per cent of citizens were deprived of the toilet facility. Meanwhile, 74 per cent of poor families were facing difficulties due to the lack of toilet facility. He informed that this project had been launched in collaboration with UNICEF in 1775 villages of Jhang, Chiniot, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Lodhran, Bhakkar, Khushab, DG Khan and Rajanpur.These districts had been chosen after a survey and two lac toilets would be constructed in three years to facilitate more than 75 thousand families, he added.

The chief minister maintained that cleanliness was half of the faith and this project was very important for maintaining public health. The Punjab government had also started the municipal services program with an amount of Rs26 billion to provide facilities at grassroots. This program was being implemented in consultation with elected representatives while DCs were monitoring the progress. “We are thankful to UNICEF for this project,” he added.

Housing Minister Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed termed poor sanitation as an important issue adding that Open Defecation-free Punjab Project would be moved forward gradually as there was a need to create awareness in the rural population. The provincial head of UNICEF also spoke on this occasion while Secretary Housing and Public Health Engineering Nadeem Mehboob gave a briefing about the project. Information Minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan, Parliamentary Secretary Malik Taimoor Masood, Mussarat Jamshed Cheema MPA, Chief Secretary and others were also present.