LAHORE - The Punjab government sealed seven more areas in the provincial capital from midnight between Wednesday and Thursday for a week as a preventive measures against coronavirus.

Addressing a news conference, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said that Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Gulberg, Gulshan  Ravi, Garden Town, Faisal Town, Model Town and Walled City areas have been sealed.

She said that strategies had been evolved to force the residents to  follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) devised by the  government against coronavirus.

Dr Yasmin appreciated doctors, nurses and paramedical staff for  serving on the front-line against the deadly virus. She said the government  had taken several steps to overcome the pandemic, adding that all kinds  of necessary medicines had been provided to the hospitals.

She urged the shopkeepers to ensure the implementation of coronavirus  SOPs, otherwise, the government would have to shutdown those markets where violations were observed.  “It is a collective responsibility of every individual to support the government which is struggling to overcome the virus,” she added.

She said that market committees should ensure following the SOPs. She said the opposition criticised the smart lockdown but it was clear that its results were positive and on-ground situation of coronavirus was under control.

“There is no shortage of medicines and beds in the hospitals,” she added.

The minister said that on the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, the PPSH & PSH department had made a comprehensive plan to increase the capacity of hospitals across the province.  She said the government had increased the number of High Dependency Beds (HDBs) from 661 to 1228 and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) from 187 to 205 in Lahore hospitals.

In Nishter Hospital Multan, she said the number of Corona Dedicated beds were  enhanced from 144 to 202, HDBs from 16 to 32 and ventilators from 16 to 26.

Dr Yasmin said that at Tayyib Erdogan Hospital Multan, 10 more ventilators  were provided while 32 ventilators were already in the use there.

She informed that number of Oxygen beds in Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH)  Rawalpindi had been increased from 147 to 347 as this city was the second hotspot of COVID-19 after Lahore. She said the number of Oxygen beds in Rawalpindi Institute of Urology had  been increased from 80 to 260.  She said the overall number of ventilators working in the province other than Lahore were 268 while HDBs were 760.

The minister said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had provided 66 static ventilators which had been distributed among Mayo Hospital,

Nishtar Hospital, Rawalpindi Institute of Urology, Rawalpindi Social Security Hospital and Punjab Kidney and Liver Institute.  “The NDMA has also provided 34 portable ventilators, 10 X-ray machines and 96 bybag machines,” she said.

She said the World Health Organization (WHO) had also donated 3 PCR machines which were given each to Jinnah Hospital, Quaid e Azam Medical College Bahawalpur and Sheikh Zayed Hospital Rahim Yar Khan to increase their capacity.

To a question, the minister said that milk shops, medical stores and food supply chain would remain opened in the sealed areas.

To another question, she said that educational institutions would be opened after a thorough consultation.