LAHORE - Blanketed by dense fog, plains of the country including Lahore remained in the grip of severe cold wave yesterday with experts predicting prevailing conditions to persist during the next couple of days.

Dense fog and biting cold disrupted road, air and rail traffic and caused large scale gas load shedding.

Dense fog forced closure of portions of Motorway besides hampering vehicular movement on inter and intra city routes including National Highway in the morning and late night.

Closure of Motorway caused difficulties for the motorists who left with no other option except to use alternative routes including National Highway.

Dense fog also disturbed vehicular movement on almost entire National Highway. The authorities advised the people to avoid unnecessary travelling. They advised the motorists to drive in slow speed and use fog lights. In Lahore, the sun disappeared behind fog after giving sunshine for about one hour in the afternoon.

Lack of sunshine, snowfall over the hills and winds from the north caused considerable decrease in the mercury, increasing chill in the weather during the day and at nighttime.

Biting cold forced the people to stay indoors wrapped in woolies and blankets to keep their bodies warm.

Excessive usage of heaters in the offices and at home led to low gas pressure in various parts of Lahore. In certain areas, women faced huge difficulties in cooking meals for their families.

Skardu remained the coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 12 degree Celsius below the freezing point. Minimum temperature in Astore and Hunza was recorded -10C, Gupis -08C, Gilgit -06C, Kalam -05C, Quetta and Dir-04C, Parachinar, Rawalakot and Dalbandin -03C, Bunji -02C, Kalat, Lower Dir, Balakot, Bannu and Zhob -01C. Maximum and minimum temperature in Lahore was recorded 11C and 04C respectively. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 68 per cent.

According to the experts, continental air is prevailing over most parts of the country.

Local meteorological department has forecast mainly cold and dry weather for most parts of the country including Lahore during the next couple of days.

Dense Foggy conditions are expected over plains of Punjab, upper Sindh and Peshawar division at nighttime and in the morning during the period.

Swine flu meeting: Measures to control Swine Flu H1N1 remained in spotlight in the monthly Executive District Officers (EDOs) Health Conference at Directorate General Health Services yesterday.

Advisor to Chief Minister on Health Kh Salman Rafiq chaired the meeting with Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare Ali Jan Khan and Director General Health Services Punjab Dr Amjad Shahzad present as co chairs. EDOs Health of Punjab’s 36 districts, representatives of Chief Minister Roadmap Team, Punjab Information Technology Board, Policy and Strategic Planning Unit, Program Managers, UNICEF, WHO and international development partners attended the meeting.

The Secretary directed swift response regarding supply of curative medicines for H1N1 flu. The DG Health said that adequate stock of Tamiflu tablets was available with the DG office and directed the districts to stay continuously in touch with the CDC. It was also shared that the staff engaged in the treatment of H1N1 was being completely vaccinated. The EDOs (H) were asked to review other protective arrangements for staff as per given protocols.

Director EPI Dr Munir Ahmed asked EDOs Health to engage the newly elected local bodies representatives for support in PEI/EPI activities. He shared that following lab confirmation of polio case in Rahim Yar Khan, case response (polio campaign) will be conducted from 27-29 Jan in Districts Rahim Yar Khan, Rajan Pur, Dera Ghazi Khan and Tehsil Ahmad Pur Sharqia of District Bahawalpur. He said as part of global switch from tOPV to bOPV, the districts must ensure utilization of tOPV stock by March and submit forms filled by the laboratories (public & private sector) regarding non-availability of any material having P2 virus. He emphasized that prime importance be given to register, map and vaccinate migrant/mobile children against polio and other VPDs.

The CM Roadmap Team shared data analysis on staff presence, bio matric attendance, hospital cleanliness, medicines availability and stock/supplies situation, safe deliveries with an overall EDOs scorecard. It was shared that disciplinary action will be taken on unauthorized leave and for not ensuring hospital cleanliness. The chair also reviewed data on sanitation and hygiene situation in different district. It was also announced that Punjab has started a new surveillance on deaths related to Mother and Neo Natal Tetanus and a mechanism for the same shared with EDOs.