Follow SOPs so as to avoid lockdown, PM presses people

ISLAMABAD: Warning that Pakistan can face the same situation as in India, Prime Minister Imran Khan has appealed to the people to adhere to the government-prescribed standard operating procedures (SOPs) to contain the spread of Covid-19.
In a televised address after chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Covid-19 on Friday, Prime Minister Khan said if the SOPs are not followed, the government will be compelled to impose a lockdown. “If a lockdown is imposed the working class will suffer the most,” he added.
“The situation in India is worsening as people are not getting enough oxygen. Pakistan could also face a similar situation if the SOPs are not followed,” the prime minister warned, adding “If the situation becomes the same as India, we can close down cities”.
“I appeal to the public to follow the SOPs religiously. The lockdown could be avoided if the people cooperate and take precautions,” he stressed, advising the masses to put on masks while venturing out.
The prime minister announced that the government will seek the Pakistan Army’s help to enforce the SOPs.
Addressing concerns about the slow pace of Covid-19 vaccination, he said there is a shortage of vaccine worldwide, assuring that the government is trying its level best to procure the vaccine for the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan urged the general public to strictly follow SOPs to stay safe from the coronavirus. He said that pressure on the health system is increasing as the third wave is spreading very fast than that of the previous waves. He said, “The intensity of the pandemic is increasing in the society, therefore; we need to be more cautious.”
Speaking alongside the premier, Federal Minister for Planning and Development and head of the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC), Asad Umar announced that Pakistan Army would be on the roads to enforce Covid-19 SOPs in the country amid concerns over rising virus cases.
“Pakistan Army will be on the roads and will help Rangers and police in enforcement of the virus-related SOPs,” he said while sharing details with the media.
Sharing an alarming situation, Asad Umar said that the country has already utilized 90 percent of the available oxygen stocks.
He, however, said that steps would be taken to improve the oxygen supply.
The NCOC head said that the country is witnessing a surge in COVID cases and plans are in the making to impose further travel restrictions from abroad. “Effective testing will also be performed on the travelers from abroad,” he said.
Umar said that restaurants will remain closed until Eid, with complete ban on indoor and outdoor dine-in. “We have restricted attendance in offices to 50 percent with duty hours restricted to 2:00pm,” he said adding that the business centres will be closed by 6:00pm in the country in the wake of rising cases.
“Shopping will only be allowed in the morning,” he said while urging citizens to avoid waiting for the last three to five days for Eid shopping. He further shared that all schools in areas witnessing a positivity rate of five percent will remain shut.
In a tweet after the NCC meeting, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Prime Minister Imran Khan has called in the Pakistan Army to help enforce the SOPs in cities.
“We are already utilising 90pc of our oxygen production capacity. Lahore is the worst affected,” he added, advising the people to take precautionary measures as there is no other way to keep the virus at bay.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday launched various development projects in Murree, including establishment of Kohsar University and up-gradation of TB Sanatorium Hospital.
Addressing the launching ceremony, the prime minister said the government is focusing on developing new tourist destinations to promote tourism and provide jobs to local people. He said that tourism is the future of Pakistan and Kohsar University will contribute a lot in this regard.
Imran Khan said, “We can retire our debt by promoting tourism in all parts of the country.” He said that Switzerland earns around $80 billion every year through tourism. He said that Switzerland has developed tourism as a science and launched courses in hospitality management and “we can also earn more by developing our northern areas and other tourist spots across Pakistan.” He added that the tourism sector has been flourishing in Pakistan with double pace every year.
The prime minister, on the occasion also planted a sapling under the Clean and Green campaign. He distributed cheques among the deserving people under Ehsas Programme as well as loans under Kamyab Jawan Programme.
“Several tourist spots could be established in KP and Gilgit Baltistan,” the prime minister pointed out while emphasising as to how the incumbent government has played its role in promoting tourism in the country. He lamented the previous leaders for neglecting tourism and utilising government’s resources. “A family in Murree spent Rs830 million from the national exchequer on their home,” he said.
The prime minister further lamented that Punjab House of Murree was previously used by ministers, who spent millions from national exchequer.
It is pertinent to mention that Punjab House of Murree has also been included in the Kohsar University to expand its premises and academic blocks while special disciplines of Hotel Management and promotion of tourism are being introduced in the university besides other faculties.
Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said that Murree enjoys the position of being the prime tourist spot in the country while Kahuta and Kotli Sattian also attracts sightseers because of their serene beauty.
The CM said the PTI government is working to develop the best facilities for the visitors in Murree and adjoining areas. He said that Rs7.80 billion will be spent on different development schemes to provide better facilities as promotion of tourism is an important agenda of PTI government.
The foundation stone of Kohsar University and attached study centre has been laid where tourism and hotel career development management classes will be started, he announced. Along with it, the up-gradation of boys and girls colleges of Kahuta, Kotli Sattian and Kalar Syedan has been laid and Municipal Committee Murree has been given the status of a municipal corporation, he added. The CM disclosed that additional deputy commissioner and SP are being posted to improve administrative affairs. New building by-laws are also being implemented and a ban on new constructions has been lifted, he stated.
The CM affirmed the emergency of THQ hospital Kahuta will be upgraded along with the up-gradation of Samli Sanatorium. A dialysis unit and trauma centre will also be established, he continued. A parking plaza is being constructed in Jhika Gali in public-private partnership mode to save visitors from parking difficulties. Meanwhile, he said projects like tourist highways and provision and drainage of water will also be started to resolve such issues.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to launch an investigation into the alleged changes into Rawalpindi’s Ring Road project.
The prime minister has taken notice of the alleged changes to Rawalpindi Ring Road’s direction in violation of the proposed plan in order to benefit private housing societies, according to a media report.
Usman Buzdar has been given a task by the premier to launch an investigation into the alleged changes in its realignment and width that would increase the cost of the road project up to Rs25 billion.
Sources said that the changes in the 85-kilometre Rawalpindi Ring Road project had allegedly been made after the intervention of some politicians and other elements.
It was learnt that the estimated cost of the road project was Rs40 billion, however, the additional expenditure after the changes in the original plan will increase its cost up to Rs65 billion.
After holding a thorough inquiry, the authorities will trace the elements behind the alleged changes in the road project in order to bring the responsible persons to justice. – TLTP

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