CM Punjab Usman Buzdar announces lockdown in Punjab for 14 days

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar Monday announced a lockdown across the province starting midnight for the next 14 days to control the spread of coronavirus.

The decision was taken during a meeting of the provincial cabinet to discuss the steps being taken by the provincial government to tackle the pandemic. Addressing the press conference in Lahore, the Chief Minister said the lockdown will be enforced from tomorrow at 9am till April 6. The pillion ridding in the province will be banned in the province during the lockdown. However, he said the shops of daily routine and medical stores will remain open during the lockdown, while markets, shopping malls and public places will remain close during the aforesaid period. Earlier, the government of Punjab had sought deployment of the military troops in the province under Article 245. Secretary Home Department of Punjab had wrote letter to the Federal Ministry of Interior seeking assistance of the military.

The provincial government seeks immediate deployment of the contingents of armed forces’ for assistance to the civilian set up. Earlier, Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan governments imposed a lockdown throughout the provinces for the next 15 days.Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Sunday had announced a lockdown across the province starting midnight for the next 15 days after increase in the numbers of coronavirus patients. “There shall be a complete ban on movement of people including Intercity or Interprovincial travel or gatherings of any kind for social, religious, or any other purpose at any place, public or private, including all offices, public or private situated within the territorial limits of province of Sindh,” a notification issued by the home department read. Sindh has the largest number of coronavirus cases in the country, with 352 confirmed. Pakistan’s tally is currently 803 with five deaths.

Following the CM’s message, police officers in different areas of Karachi started patrolling the streets to announce the government’s decision and to urge citizens to stay home from today (Monday). In a video message, the provincial chief minister said that he had met politicians from various political parties during which they discussed the coronavirus and agreed upon certain steps that needed to be taken. On Sunday, addressing a press conference in Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan Law Minister Aurangzeb Khan said that the province will be locked down from midnight (tonight) for an indefinite period. He said that this will be called home lockdown and police and rangers will be patrolling day and night. According to the provincial governments of Northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Punjab, and Balochistan, the public have been advised to remain at home and avoid social gatherings. “In view of experts’ advice regarding social distancing being a primary preventive method and avoiding public contact, all markets, shopping malls, and restaurants shall remain closed with effect from Sunday morning till Tuesday morning,” the KP government said in a statement. The provincial government also declared an emergency and suspended all inter-district passenger public transport for seven days starting on Monday, the statement added. The virus emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 167 countries and regions, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. With more than 307,000 confirmed cases, the death toll is now over 13,000, while more than 92,000 have recovered.

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