Govt moving gradually towards lockdowns, says Punjab Governor
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar on Friday said the government was moving gradually towards lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking in 24NewsHD TV channel’s programme 24@9 on Friday, the governor said the people must avoid unnecessary travel both within and outside the cities, as he stressed the need for social distancing by minimising social contact.
He was answering a question about the failure of the Punjab government to effectively implement the Section 144 imposed in the province.
The governor was also asked about his advice to Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. His response was that the first and foremost thing was the need to conduct tests so as to identify the infected people. Only testing and the resultant identification of patients would enable the people and government to isolate them, he noted.
Sarwar added that the orders to close markets at 10pm were part of a series of steps that would continue in the near future.
Citing the examples of Saudi Arabia and the UK, the governor requested the religious leaders to take lead about the gatherings at mosques, especially the Friday prayers. It can happen everywhere if such steps are taken in Makkah and Madinah, he remarked.
Sarwar promised that the government supports those – especially daily wagers – amid reduced business activity and a lockdown-like situation.
“We cannot let our labourers die,” he said, while mentioning that they buy their food daily only after working during the day.
Sarwar said the government was working on a plan with the help of philanthropists to provide one-month ration to the deserving people.
He described the situation as very serious and said the economy was being affected badly by the coronavirus pandemic.
Praising the steps taken by the Sindh government with respect to closure of markets and other public places, the Punjab governor said the provincial governments would work together with the Centre.
When asked about Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid’s assertion that Panadol tablets are the cure and other government officials’ irresponsible statements, he said “nobody is perfect” and added that the citizens should not use any medicine without doctor’s prescription.
In response to a question about the delay in government’s steps, Sarwar said those entering the country without screening were damaging their own family members and other dear ones. There is a need to motivate and create awareness among the people, he added.
Sarwar asked the people to contact the Tele Medicine Helpline established at the University of Health Sciences  in case of any symptoms and avoid the rush at the hospitals by minimising the number of attendants.
He revealed that 4,500 people had reached the helpline in the first 24 hours and more would be established at all the teaching universities of Punjab in the next three to four days.
Sarwar also said that there was a suggestion to convert the hotels and university hostels into isolation centres, if and when required.
About the doctors, nurses and paramedical staff, the governor said they were fighting the war against the coronavirus on the frontline.
The Punjab governor showered praises on the media for their hectic efforts to create awareness among the masses about how to prevent the coronavirus spread.