PESHAWAR: A meeting of the provincial Task Force on COVID-19 was held here on Monday with Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mahmood Khan in the chair. The meeting reviewed in detail latest Corona situation in the province with special focus on the implementation status of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the provincial government to ease up the lockdown. The forum expressed its concern on the violation of SOPs in some of the sectors and decided to get the SOPs strictly implemented. The District Administrations were directed to take necessary measure to implement the SOPs and to close down the premises where SOPs were not being implemented. Besides Provincial Ministers Taimur Saleem Jhagar, Shaukat Yousafzai and Advisor to CM, Ajmal Wazir, the meeting was also attended by Chief Secretary Dr. Kazim Niaz, Provincial Police Chief Dr. Sanaullah Abbassi, concerned administrative secretaries and other relevant high ups of both military and civil administration.
The forum agreed to impose fines for not using face mask in public places. The forum while expressing its concern on the increasing number of positive Corona cases approved strategy for smart lockdown in hotspot areas to contain the mass scale outbreak of the pandemic. The strategy will be tabled in the next meeting of the provincial cabinet for final approval to add political ownership to it. The meeting was given a detailed briefing on the progress made so far on capacity enhancement of the public sector teaching hospitals of the province to effectively deal with Corona cases. It was informed that significant improvement had been made in increasing the capacity of Intensive Care Units and High Dependency for COVID patients, ventilators, trained human resource and other necessary arrangements in these hospitals. It was decided in the meeting to carry out a need assessment of the District Headquarter Hospitals (DHQs) as well and to devise a feasible plan to enhance their capacities in terms of Corona cases. Regarding the overall Corona testing capacity in public sector hospitals, it was informed that 3500 tests were being conducted per day and work is in progress to increase the number to 5000 per day. The forum stressed the need for maximum utilization of the existing testing laboratories and engaging more private sector entities to increase the testing capacity to the maximum level. The forum was informed that there was no shortage of oxygen cylinders for COVID patients in the province but reportedly some people are involved in hoarding the cylinders; and it was decided that action would be taken against those elements under the anti-hoarding ordinance of the provincial government. The forum was also informed that 40 percent of the total requirements of hospitals as communicated by the provincial government to the National Disaster Management Authority would be provided by the NDMA tomorrow (on Tuesday) positively. It was also decided to regulate the charges of private sector hospitals for providing treatments to corona patients and the health department was directed for necessary steps to this end. The forum also agreed to constitute committees at divisional level to constantly monitor the treatment facilities being provided to the corona patients in Divisional and District Headquarter hospitals. Expressing his views on this occasion, the Chief Minister directed the concerned authorities to devise a workable plan within ten days positively to enhance the capacities of all DHQ hospitals in order to minimize the burden of Corona patients on teaching hospitals.