ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan will resume on Monday (today) the hearing of Chief Justice of Pakistan’s suo moto notice about government’s measures taken to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.

A five-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed will conduct hearing of suo moto notice wherein it had directed the federal government to file a comprehensive report along with the outcome of the high-level meeting which took place last week.

Earlier, the court had issued notices to the chief secretaries of all provinces in addition to summoning the federal interior secretary, chief commissioner Islamabad and the Gilgit-Baltistan chief secretary.

The Sindh government also submitted a report in relation to the government measures regarding the coronavirus crisis. In the report, the provincial government said that there were only 144 ventilators for coronavirus patients in the province. There were 383 working ventilators in Sindh, said the report, adding that around 21 coronavirus patients were in critical condition in the province.

The report stated that 16,920 people were tested for the coronavirus so far and in Karachi, 11 Union Councils were sealed as the number of coronavirus patients rose from 86 to 234. It said that the population of the UCs exceeded 674,000 while 194 out of 1,210 tests came positive for the coronavirus.

In the wake of the coronavirus situation, some 6,673 ration bags were distributed in sealed areas. As per the procedure laid out by the Sindh government, 285,673 ration bags were distributed throughout the province. The report added that there were 1,056 isolation wards spread across the province, treating coronavirus patients.

After the previous hearing the court order had stated that the court has heard the learned Attorney General for Pakistan, the Advocates General of Punjab, Sindh, KP, Balochistan, and GB and some individual lawyers were heard while a few people from public also appeared and made their respective submissions.

It added that the AGP, on the observation of this Court in the Order dated 7.04.2020, regarding making of emergency legislation on coronavirus (COVID-19) by the Federal Government, Provincial Governments, G.B. and ICT, stated that as a matter of policy, the session of Parliament is not being called but the government is considering such aspect of the matter. He, however, further stated that today (Monday) a high level meeting is taking place between the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers of all the Provinces including GB and Chief Commissioner, ICT, where issues relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) will be thoroughly deliberated and measures will be taken, in that, a uniform policy applicable to all the territories of Pakistan is drawn and it is ensured that the same is applied across the board and in this regard no territory of Pakistan, where people of Pakistan are living, is treated differently.

 

The order maintained, “The Federal Government through the learned Attorney General has assured the Court that it is taking all steps to deal with this pandemic and is trying to reduce its effect on the people by taking various measures on the social welfare side and also on humanitarian grounds. Further medical supplies are being provided by the Federal Government to the Provincial Governments, including PPEs and ventilators to the hospitals and test-kits to the laboratories. Although it is stated that most of the items of PPE, test-kits, and ventilators are imported but now there seems to be some consensus in Punjab and Sindh where efforts are being made to manufacture the same locally in large quantity. The stage of making a test-kit, apparently, has not been reached but the learned Attorney General states that such will be achieved by the government. The locally manufactured ventilators are being put to the test and hopefully, if they are found successful, they will be produced and distributed all over Pakistan.”

 

The apex court noted that doctors and paramedics, who are working in the front line in dealing with this pandemic are especially affected and are at risk of contracting this disease and it is hoped that the federal and provincial governments, the ICT, and GB shall ensure that all necessary needs of the doctors and paramedics, in such emergency situation, are fully fulfilled. We are informed that doctors and paramedics are performing duties beyond their call of duty and at many places, they are not even being provided with food. This, in our view, is a sensitive issue which should immediately be addressed by all the governments and grievances, in this regard of the doctors and paramedics are redressed.

 

It maintained that the condition of sanitary staff is also not good and it is informed that they are exposed to all sorts of diseases, while they are working in the hospitals and other places. No effective care is being provided to them and a request has been made that they be provided with the requisite protection, so that they may perform their work without any fear. In the circumstances, the Federal Government as well as all the Provincial Governments, including, the ICT and GB shall ensure that sanitary staff are taken care of and are provided with proper and secure uniforms, so that they can work without fear of being affected by disease. It also added that the Chairman PMA informed that 40,000 applications for registration of doctors are pending because of the issue prevailing with PMDC. The issue is already pending in the Courts, including this Court and will be addressed soon in accordance with law.