LAHORE - The Punjab government has enforced section-144 in the province to prohibit public gathering and hoarding of stuff like hand sanitisers and masks etc.

There will be complete ban on opening of educational institutes, marriage halls, holding of exams and religious and public gatherings. In-house marriage functions, will, however, be allowed to facilitate the public.

Decision to this effect was taken at a meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Secretary Major (r) Azam Suleman Khan. Provincial Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid, Additional Chief Secretary Home Momin Agha, IG Police Shoaib Dastgir, secretaries of health and food departments, commissioner Lahore and Bahawalpur attended the meeting. All other divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners, regional police officers and district police officers joined the meeting through video conferencing.

Additional Chief Secretary Home Momin Agha told the meeting that section-144 has been imposed for three weeks across the province to prohibit hoarding and profiteering of hand sanitizers, opening of all private and public educational institutes, marriage/banquet halls and marquees, holding of examinations, religious congregation, public gatherings and sports festivals.

The Chief Secretary directed that all educational institutes would be kept closed and presence of teaching staff there would not be allowed as well. The meeting decided to close all parks, zoos and recreational places for public. It was also decided that buses, which brought pilgrims from Iran and other areas, would be disinfected, relatives of pilgrims would be given awareness about precautionary measures through videos and help of Ulema would be sought for this purpose.

All the divisional commissioners were asked to allocate one hospital in each division for medical treatment of coronavirus patients and make arrangements for quarantine and isolation there.

Dr Yasmin Rashid suggested providing kits to private labs by the government to give people facility of coronavirus test at affordable rate. She maintained that the health department has established a helpline 1033 to provide information to general public.

IG Punjab Shoaib Dastgir told the meeting that his force is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the administration. “Our Jawans would not budge an inch in the hour of need,’’ he added.

He briefed the Health Minister and Chief Secretary that training sessions in police training centres and departmental promotion exams have been cancelled throughout the province and parades of Jawans have been banned in all police lines. He mentioned that lectures for Jawans to enhance awareness about coronavirus continue under supervision of health experts in police lines. CCPO Lahore Zulfiqar Hameed told the meeting that a quarantine centre for police employees is being established at Kala Shah Kaku to face any eventuality.

Issuing directions to officers, the Chief Secretary said that wedding ceremonies within the boundary walls of houses are allowed. The meeting also decided to take stern action against the hoarders of food items, besides launching a media campaign to enhance awareness among people about coronavirus so that citizens could save themselves from this disease by following precautionary measures.

The Chief Secretary also said that all stakeholders in the society would have to play their role in efforts to combat coronavirus, besides strictly adhering to the advisory on precautionary measures so that every citizen could be saved from this disease.