PESHAWAR/Faisalabad            -         The provincial cabinet in its meeting chaired by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan here on Tuesday approved mega relief packages for ensuring food security and uplift of construction sectors in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

Briefing newsmen about the cabinet decisions, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister for Information and Local Government, Kamran Bangash said food department has been directed to ensure provision of flour to people at affordable prices. Under the relief package, he said 20kg flour bag would be provided to people on Rs860 and 40kg bag on Rs1475. He said the cabinet has directed food department to prepare a comprehensive plan for food security on the basis of research work.

The cabinet also approved Rs4 billion relief package for uplift of construction industry, he said, adding maximum relief had been provided in taxes including exemption of local council tax under the package.

The relief to construction industry has been provided till June 30, 2021. The cabinet also exempted hotels and restaurants from registration license fee tax for one year as tourism sector had been badly affected by lockdown due to COVID-19. Exploration fee under Antiquities Act 2016 has been significantly reduced to facilitate foreign investment in this key sector as province had a lot of potential in this regard.

Bangash said the KP cabinet has approved public private partnerships act to facilitate investment in the province.

Under the act, a high powered committee led by Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, representatives of Planning and Development Department, Law and others departments besides representatives of the investors party would be constituted to evaluate financial viability and others aspects of the project within a short time.

The Cabinet also directed expediting work on Accelerated Implementation Program (AIP) in merged districts to ensure its speedy development.

To promote tourism, he said 85 guest houses of different departments were handed over to Tourism Department.

The cabinet also approved to write Khatimul Nabièen with the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the curriculum and directed Education Department to prepare a comprehensive plan for inclusion of ethical and social values besides science and technology in the curriculum.

The cabinet also decided to open all educational institutes including schools, colleges, universities, madaris, technical and commerce in the province from September 15 under SOPs. To facilitate students of far flung areas, the cabinet decided to open hostels with 30pc occupancy from September 15. Any education institution that found guilty of violating the SOPs would be closed, Bangash said.

He said the CM Mahmood Khan had stressed the need for regulatory policy for all departments, adding all departments were directed to submit their two years performance to be shared with media. The cabinet also approved commission to probe alleged audio leakage of former Advisor Ajmal Wazir.

2,968 shops, 50 industries sealed over SOPs violation

As many as 2,968 shops and 50 industrial units were sealed while 14,242 vehicles were impounded in the district over violation of the lockdown/Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and anti-corona standard operating procedures (SOPs) during the last 46 days.

A fine of more than Rs 10 million was imposed on shopkeepers over noncompliance while challans of 74,082 vehicles were conducted besides issuing warning to 8,754 transporters over minor complaints.  This was disclosed by Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ali in a meeting at Commissioner’s Office to review the matter relating to anti-corona measures.

Divisional Commissioner Ishrat Ali presided over the meeting while RPO Raja Riffat Mukhtar, Pak army officers and representatives of Health Department were also present.  The commissioner said that action was being taken against shops, markets, shopping malls and restaurants for not implementing lockdown.  He said that all resources should be provided to doctors, who were appointed for serving corona patients. The DHO gave briefing on test capacity of the lab and situation of corona patients.

Immunotherapy safe for patients with COVID-19, cancer: Study

Researchers have now shown that immunotherapy does not necessarily worsen complications for patients with both COVID-19 and cancer. “Many COVID-19 complications result from an overactive immune response, leading to an increased production of proteins called cytokines,” said study researcher Layne Weatherford from the University of Cincinnati (UC) in the US.

“Increased production of these proteins can cause issues like a respiratory failure. Patients with cancer are more susceptible to COVID-19 infection as well as severe complications from it,” Weatherford added. According to the researchers, many patients with cancer are treated with immunotherapy, which activates the immune system against cancer to destroy it. In patients with both COVID-19 and cancer, the research team thought that immunotherapy might increase the immune system response, which could already be overactive because of the COVID-19 infection, Medical Daily reported.

They thought treating COVID-19 patients with cancer immunotherapy might result in worsening patients’ health and overall outcomes. “We are continuing to investigate whether immunotherapy causes an increased production of these proteins by immune cells from Covid-19 patients, but our initial findings are showing that immunotherapy is not significantly impacting it,” said study.