LAHORE                   -                 The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday directed the Punjab government to keep all wholesale markets of vegetables, fruits, grain and spices open in the province.

A full bench, headed by LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan, passed the directions while disposing of petitions, filed by the Lahore High Court Bar Association, Bahawalpur, for prevention of coronavirus. The bench noted that it would release detailed verdict with directions later on, adding that the media would be asked to raise awareness among masses and avoid creating panic.

As the proceedings started, the advocate general Punjab argued before the bench that the government would provide food items to labourers, daily wagers,  rickshaw drivers and others. The chief justice observed that wholesale markets of vegetables, fruits, grain and spices should be kept open. He asked the government to pay attention to markets, as there were some problems due to crowd, adding that food chain should not be affected at any cost. Justice Ayesha A Malik, a member of the bench, observed that the local administration should follow Chinese model and draw circles to ensure social distancing during the purchase of commodities from shops.

In response to a query, Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department Punjab Secretary Muhammad Usman stated that if someone was tested positive for corona, he was quarantined immediately, whereas the persons in contact with infected patients were asked to observe quarantine at home.

At this stage, Specialised Healthcare Department Punjab  Secretary Nabeel Awan submitted that if someone did not like to stay at the government quarantine facility, then he could be allowed to observe quarantine privately.

Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq A Khan also briefed the bench about the number of Pakistanis who recently went abroad.

Subsequently, the bench disposed of the petition while directing the government to formulate a policy for release of prisoners in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.