Special risk allowance for frontliners in virus fight
March 27 2020 12:17 AM
A police officer
A police officer uses a megaphone to alert people in Quetta amid an outbreak of the coronavirus.


The Punjab government has announced a special risk allowance for medical staff and other officials on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight.
Since Pakistan International Airline (PIA) crew members and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials have remained exposed to foreign travellers at airports across the province, the Punjab government is asking the CAA authorities to either get their each and every employee screened, or provide lists to the government for proper screening.
This was announced by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar at a news conference after chairing the Cabinet Committee on eradication of coronavirus at the chief minister’s secretariat.
He said the Punjab Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Ordinance 2020 had been enforced at once.
The chief minister hinted that the Punjab government would announce social protection package on the pattern of the federal government.
He said that 600 pilgrims out of 800 quarantined at DG Khan had been cleared of coronavirus and the government officials would transport them to their homes in the province.
Buzdar said the government is also ready to begin the screening process of all prisoners in jails across Punjab, and added that a 100-bed hospital is being set up in the Lahore Camp Jail for the purpose.
He said the government was also finalising a strategy to give relief and release some 3,500 prisoners.
The chief minister said the health department had been directed to enhance the lab facilities, as per Punjab cabinet decision, and ensure the availability of all required kits and personal protective gear, etc.
“The PSL level-3 labs will be set up in every division and Rs620mn have been released for five divisions to early complete this project,” Buzdar said.
The chief minister said that the waste management company and other managements had been directed across the province to ensure cleanliness.
He said instructions had been issued to all concerned that the food chain must not be disrupted, and added that ample stocks are already available with the government.
“A committee has been constituted that will meet on a daily basis to ensure that there was no dearth of food items in the province,” he said.
He reiterated that the hoarders would be dealt with harshly.
The chief minister said the total number of coronavirus patients in Punjab stood at 312: 176 in DG Khan, 77 in Lahore, three in Multan, 19 in Jhelum, two each in Rawalpindi and Faisalabad, 21 in Gujrat, eight in Gujranwala, and one each in Mandi Bahuddin, Rahim Yar Khan, Sargodha, and Narowal.
He said the total number of quarantine facilities in Punjab had reached 163, having a total capacity of 20,000 patients.
Meanwhile, he said, work is in progress to set up more quarantine facilities along with an increase in medical facilities.
The chief secretary told the cabinet committee meeting that 150 pilgrims, coming from Iran, had been kept in Faisalabad.
Earlier in the day Buzdar visited the University of Engineering and Technology (UET)’s Kala Shah Kaku (KSK) campus and inspected the 1,200-bed quarantine established there.
He directed the installation of incinerators at the quarantine facility to destroy of the disposables as well as clothes of the medical teams.
The chief minister was briefed about the “yellow van” and “yellow room” facility.
Buzdar was told that the goggles, boots, gloves, face masks, caps and protective dresses would be collected in the yellow room and the sealed protective kit would be sent to the yellow van for disposal by incinerator at high temperature.
The chief minister was also informed that 15 buses had been arranged to transfer the patients from Old Airport Terminal Lahore to the KSK campus after registration.
The patients would be shifted to the quarantine facility, where a control room and emergency response centre had been set up.
Similarly, four ambulances and 10 motorcycle ambulances had been arranged, while 15 doctors and 65 members of the medical team would perform round-the-clock duties in different shifts.
A dispensary and infection control system, along with security arrangements, had been established.
Portable washrooms and other facilities were also available in the KSK campus for 816 patients.
Around 1,400 patients could be quarantined in the UET, the Government College University (GCU) and Judicial Complex facilities.

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