PESHAWAR - A meeting of the provincial Task Force on COVID-19 was held here on Monday with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in the chair.

The meeting reviewed in detail the latest corona situation in the province with special focus on the implementation status of Standard Operating Proce­dures (SOPs) to ease up the lockdown.

The forum expressed its concern over the violation of SOPs in some of the sectors and decided to get the SOPs strictly implemented.

They were directed to take necessary measures to implement the SOPs and to close down the premises where SOPs were not being implemented.

Besides Provincial Ministers Taimur Jhagar, Shaukat Yousafzai and Advisor to CM, Ajmal Wazir, the meet­ing was also attended by Chief Secretary Dr. Kazim Niaz, Provincial Police Chief Sanaullah Abbassi, con­cerned administrative secretaries and other relevant highups of both military and civil administrations.

The forum agreed to impose fines for not using face mask in public places. The forum while expressing its concern over the increasing number of positive coro­na cases approved a strategy for smart lockdown in hotspot areas to contain the mass scale outbreak of the pandemic. The strategy will be tabled in the next meeting of the provincial cabinet for final approval to add political ownership to it.

The meeting was given a detailed briefing on the progress made so far on capacity enhancement of the public sector teaching hospitals of the province to ef­fectively deal with Corona cases. It was informed that significant improvement had been made in increas­ing the capacity of Intensive Care Units and High De­pendency for COVID patients, ventilators, trained hu­man resource and other necessary arrangements in these hospitals.

It was decided in the meeting to carry out a need assessment of the District Headquarters Hospitals (DHQs) as well and to devise a feasible plan to en­hance their capacities in terms of corona cases.

Regarding the overall corona testing capacity in public sector hospitals, it was informed that 3500 tests were being conducted per day and work is in progress to increase the number to 5000 per day.

The forum stressed the need for maximum utiliza­tion of the existing testing laboratories and engag­ing more private sector entities to increase the test­ing capacity to the maximum level. The forum was informed that there was no shortage of oxygen cyl­inders for COVID patients in the province but re­portedly some people are involved in hoarding the cylinders; and it was decided that action would be taken against those elements under the anti-hoard­ing ordinance of the provincial government.

The forum was also informed that 40 percent of the total requirements of hospitals as communicat­ed by the provincial government to the National Di­saster Management Authority would be provided by the NDMA today.

It was also decided to regulate the charges of pri­vate sector hospitals for providing treatments to co­rona patients and the health department was direct­ed for necessary steps to this end.

The forum also agreed to constitute committees at divisional level to constantly monitor the treatment facilities being provided to the corona patients in di­visional and district headquarters hospitals.

Expressing his views on this occasion, the Chief Min­ister directed the concerned authorities to devise a workable plan within ten days positively to enhance the capacities of all DHQ hospitals in order to minimize the burden of corona patients on teaching hospitals.

He also directed the concerned quarters to further strengthen the teaching hospitals in terms of budget­ary support in order to enable them ensure the avail­ability of oxygen at their own.

Stressing the need for increasing the corona testing capacity in the public sector, the chair directed the hi­ghups of health department to give proper timelines to increase the capacity to the required level.

Mahmood Khan also directed the health depart­ment for necessary measures on emergency basis to ensure the availability of train human resource for operating ventilators in the hospitals.

The Chief Minister said that soon after the budget session of provincial assembly, all the cabinet mem­bers would be assigned special duties to regular­ly visit the DHQ and THQ hospitals to monitor the treatment facilities being provided to COVID patients therein.

Meanwhile, Advisor to Chief Minister on Informa­tion and Public Relations Ajmal Wazir briefed the media that smart lockdown will be implemented in areas where cases ratio would be high.

He said that operations were also underway across the province against the violators of SOPs, 12,952 op­erations have been carried out in which 3,878 people have been issued warnings for violating SOPs. While a fine of Rs. 668,700 has been imposed on 1,157 per­sons for non-implementation of SOPs and 420 units / businesses have been sealed.