ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday directed the federal government to establish quarantine centers at Taftan, Chaman, and Torkham Borders; with each center having enough facilities to accommodate 1,000 persons.

The apex court also said that there is a need for legislation on the steps that the government intends to take to deal with situation arising out of the coronavirus pandemic. A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed, heard Raja Muhammad Nadeem’s petition against an Islamabad High Court order dated March 20 regarding the release of 408 prisoners from law enforcement custody to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The top court noted that initially most of the coronavirus cases came to Pakistan from the entry points at Taftan, Chaman and Torkham borders. It added that “unless these entry points are plugged by building effective quarantine centers, the surge of coronavirus cannot possibly be stopped.”

It maintained that each quarantine center should have accommodation for at least 1,000 persons. It also directed that these centers are to have single occupancy, proper drainage, a water supply, clean and hygienic toilets and a medical center with doctors and the paramedic staff for treatment of sick people.

 

Justice Gulzar said that all these steps must be taken expeditiously; within one month these centers need to be made functional. He further directed the government to file a report on it in due time. The bench warned that if the directions are not complied with then the Court may take action against the officials responsible.

 

Regarding the distribution of relief funds through the Ehsas program, the court directed that local governments must be taken on board. However, it later withdrew this direction when the Attorney General requested that this aspect be decided after top officials had briefed the bench members in their respective chambers. 

The bench directed that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) be manufactured in Pakistan as both the facilities and resources are available within the country. Imported PPE costs Rs 7,200 per kit, however, if it is manufactured in Pakistan then it would cost Rs 1,500 per kit. 

The Attorney General informed the court that the government would utilize all available resources for manufacturing of ventilators locally so that every hospital and medical facility has a sufficient number at hand. The court also directed the federal, provincial and Gilgit-Baltistan governments to ensure PPEs are provided to the doctors and paramedics treating coronavirus patients. The bench noted that the doctors and paramedics staged a protest in Quetta as they were not provided adequate PPEs. 

The apex court directed the federal, provincial and GB governments to file comprehensive reports on all the orders issued by this court regarding these matters and deferred the hearing in this matter till April 13.