LHC reprimands Centre for its lethargic response to coronavirus

By: News Desk      Published: 03:07 PM, 27 Mar, 2020
LHC reprimands Centre for its lethargic response to coronavirus

Lahore High Court heard a case relating to the government’s preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus. While seeking complete details of the incoming visitors in Pakistan, the court reprimanded the authorities why the screening process was not initiated from day one.

The five-member bench, presided by the Chief Justice Lahore, heard the case in the presence of Additional Attorney General Ishtiaq A Khan, acting Advocate General Shan Gul, Deputy Attorney General Asad Ali Bajwa besides several other law officers.

In addition, Secretary Primary Health Muhammad Usman, Secretary Specialised Health Nabil Awan, President High Court Bar Tahir Nasrullah Warraich, Inspector General Jail Mirza Shahid Baig was also present in the court.

The federal government presented before the court the details of the overseas Pakistanis visiting the country recently. “As many as 951,365 Pakistanis visited different countries,” Additional Attorney General told the court, and added that “Currently, around 317 pilgrims, 210 students and 500 people from Iran want to come back to Pakistan.”

“In addition, there are another 17,000 students in Iran who don’t wish to come back,” the federal government’s lawyer said.

“The federal government has announced Rs240bn package over the period of the next four months,” Additional Attorney Daily Wages said.

The interim Advocate General submitted the report before the court about the distribution of the money to the daily wagers and the ration. He also submitted the report about the provincial governments’ assistance in this regard.

The interim AG said that “A letter has been written to the federal government suggesting an early deduction of Zakat, a month before the usual time. In addition, “As many as 24,000 ration bags were distributed among the affected people, and we’re identifying the daily wagers, the affected people and those who deserve in this critical time.”

The interim AG further said that the health department had been given Rs11 billion aid package.

However, the High Court ordered the government to ensure the uninterrupted flow of transportation to and from the fruit and vegetable markets, adding that “The food markets must remain open.”

The court also ordered the authorities to ensure the provision of ration to the needy, and directed the government to give special allowances to the doctors, nurses, and the paramedical staff.

“The whole nation should pay a tribute to the medical staff,” the court said.

In addition, the LHC CJ issued a range of directions including the pesticide spray around the quarantine centres, and the uninterrupted flow of the food chain that “must not stop in any case,” the top judge said.

“The local authorities should follow Chinese model,” Justice Ayesha A. Malik said.

Secretary Primary Health said that an individual is isolated as soon as he tests positive for the coronavirus.

However, if someone is not happy with the quarantine centre, he or she could seek private arrangements, Secretary Specialised Health Nabeel Awan said.

“Even the educated people who are infected and isolated insist to meet their families,” Nabil Awan said.

Former Lord Mayor Mubashir Javed was also present at the Lahore High Court and said that he has “3700 elected representatives (to volunteer).”

The court told him that he can do this work individually, and he should contact the government to offer his services.

The LHC CJ observed that each family should give additional money to its servants besides the monthly salary.

The court also expressed concern over the news of wheat scarcity and instructed the authorities that it must not happen it all.

“All SHOs should survey their respective areas in order to ensure no one is hoarding the food,” the court said and directed the DCs to oversee the wheat crisis on a priority basis.

The secretary health said that everyone is not being tested for the coronavirus, and “only those are being tested who are suspected of contracting the illness.”

Secretary Coordination informed the court that the government is doing its best to ensure to regulate the prices control, and “We’re also in contact with other provinces to control the prices.”

The LHC CJ asked the authorities how many of the incoming visitors were scanned? “The outbreak spread from Europe. Wasn’t it your responsibility to begin the screening process from day one?”

On this, the Additional Attorney General said “We had begun the screening process as soon the coronavirus spread in China.”

“It seems the federal government did not provide you the complete information,” the court observed.

The larger bench expressed dissatisfaction over the federal response. The interim AG presented the details of the prisoners before the court.