With Punjab becoming the first province to record 1,000 coronavirus fatalities amid a rapid surge in the number of COVID-19 infections, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has announced a 15-day selective quarantine in Lahore, which will come into effect from Monday-Tuesday midnight.
Addressing a press conference, Dr Rashid said that selected neighbourhoods, including Lahore Cantonment, Shahdara, Mozang, Walled City, Harbanspura, Nishtar Town, Allama Iqbal Town will be locked down completely from midnight. Some areas in Gulberg will also be closed completely.
According to the health minister, more than 300 cases had been recorded in each of these areas which was why the decision to enforce a lockdown was taken. However, Dr Rashid added, pharmacies, tandoors and dairy shops will remain open and so will any factories that are making protective equipment.
“These areas will be locked down for at least two weeks and then we will observe the results.”
She also once again urged people to follow the government’s announced standard operating procedures (SOPs) to stop the spread of the virus, adding that the virus could be stemmed by 50 per cent just by wearing a face mask.
Lamenting the “wrong” criticism against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for alleged loose handling of the pandemic, she said, “If [you say that] our government has failed, so has every other government in the world.”
“The media is comparing us to New Zealand and Taiwan. The population of New Zealand is half [about 5 million] of that of Lahore’s. Controlling the virus there is much easier than controlling it in a thickly populated country like ours,” she said.
“People don’t understand that this is a viral infection. Even in China, where they followed strict measures with commendable discipline, there is a resurgence of cases,” the health minister said.
‘NO SWEEPING LOCKDOWN’:
On Saturday, Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan had ruled out a sweeping lockdown once again on a visit to Lahore during which he held meetings with Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Usman Buzdar and other officials to evaluate the virus situation in the province.
The premier’s visit to Lahore had come a day after the Punjab government sent recommendations to the federal government to tighten lockdown measures in the province, in particular Lahore, in a bid to curb the growing number of COVID-19 cases.
But after holding meetings with the provincial government’s top brass, PM Imran had said a strategy of “smart lockdowns” will be implemented instead whereby strict adherence to SOPs will be ensured to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“After analysing with my Punjab team today, [we’ve decided that] we will not impose a lockdown but will impose selective lockdowns — trace and seal hotspots,” the premier had said, adding that the country’s administration and police were not in a position to take “such a huge burden of a complete lockdown”.