LAHORE           -             Punjab Government has directed closure of all shopping malls, markets, restaurants and parks across the province during the long weekend, from 9pm on Saturday till 9am on Tuesday as a part of social distancing measures.  However, pharmacies, clinics, petrol pumps, auto workshops and stores, wholesale markets and retail outlets of essential commodities like vegetables, fruit, groceries, milk, yogurt and poultry will remain open as per normal routine. Home delivery and takeaway from restaurants will also be allowed.

Addressing a press conference through video link after chairing meeting of cabinet committee on coronavirus on Saturday, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said that these were social distancing measures to check spread of virus to healthy individuals.

Flanked by Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and other cabinet members, the CM said there was no restriction on transport but people should avoid unnecessary travelling. He urged the masses to stay at home during long weekend and avoid going out without any reason. “We are not heading towards lockdown. It is essential to maintain social distancing for checking spread of coronavirus”, he said, adding, the strict measures were taken due to increase in rush of people in markets and public places after closure of educational institutions.

He shared details of decisions taken by the cabinet committee and data of confirmed coronavirus patients with the media.

Out of 137 confirmed COVID-19 patients, 106 are under treatment at Dera Ghazi Khan quarantine, 20 in Lahore, four in Gujranwala, three in Gujrat, two in Jhelum and one each in Rawalpindi and Multan, the CM said, adding, well off and rich patients could get isolation/quarantine facility in big private hospitals.

“Corona Emergency Ordinance will be presented before the cabinet for approval on Tuesday. Chief Secretary will present provincial contingency plan and Finance Minister social protection contingency plan”, he said.

While chairing the cabinet committee meeting earlier, the CM directed industries department to ensure availability of essential commodities in the province. He directed Law Minister Raja Basharat and Secretary Health to hold video link meeting with doctors for timely redress of their reservations. The meeting was told that more than 24,000 gowns were available for doctors and paramedical staff handling coronavirus patients. Besides that, 760,000 gloves, 944,000 surgical masks, 900,000 N95 masks, 5,000 goggles, 44,000 show covers and 40,000 sanitizers were available for the medical staff.

Provincial Ministers Dr Yasmin Rashid, Hashim Jawan Bakht, Mian Aslam Iqbal and Chief Secretary attended the meeting. Provincial Energy Minister Akhtar Malik attended the meeting from Commissioner Office Multan, Provincial Secretaries from the Civil Secretariat Committee Room and IG Police, Chairman PITB and other officials from respective offices through video link.

CM condoles death of labourers in Quetta

Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar expressed grief and sorrow over the deaths of labourers during coal mine mishap in Quetta. He expressed heartfelt sympathies and condolence with the bereaved family members of the deceased labourers. “We equally shares the grief of affected families in this hour of distress and anguish”, he said.

CM laments demise of Iftikhar Ahmed’s sister

Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar has expressed grief and sorrow over death of sister of senior journalist and anchorperson Iftikhar Ahmad.

In condolence message, he expressed heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved family members and prayed that Allah Almighty rest the departed soul in eternal peace and give courage to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss.