AJK government takes unprecedented steps to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic,
MUZAFFARABAD: (Parliament Times) As the corona virus (Covid-19) has spread rapidly in most of the world over besides entering Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government has taken unprecedented steps to respond to the pandemic and protect the health and safety of its citizens.
Responding to the situation proactively, Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan constituted an 18-member State Coordination Committee (SCC) to oversee implementation of measures to avert the imminent threat of corona virus in the liberated territory.
Taking high-ups, including senior cabinet members, top government functionaries, heads of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and officials from intelligence organizations operating in the state, SCC in its first meeting, imposed section 144 as a precautionary measure to help stop the spread of corona virus in the state.
The Prime Minister immediately summoned the cabinet meeting and solicited suggestions from cabinet members assigning them duties to deal with the situation on a war footing.
The cabinet in its first meeting especially convened to discuss the corona pandemic in the region, approved a ban on the entry of tourists, restricted travel from impacted areas, strict screening mechanism at all entry points of the state and other several solid steps to curb the corona spread and to ensure safety of local people from the looming novel corona virus threat.
The AJK government by taking rapid actions to limit travel by the outsiders and quarantining all incoming travelers had significantly helped the government to limit the number of suspected cases. That is the very reason that the state only has two corona virus affected cases that are under treatment and one of them is recovering speedily.
Later, the state government took number of drastic measures including closing of all educational institutions including public, private as well as tuition centers till 31st May, suspending all inter provincial, inter-district and intercity public transport, announcing health emergency and establishing quarantine centers and isolation hospitals in all ten districts of the state.
During the three weeks health emergency in the state, special measures are being adopted including scanning the people at all entry points to AJK. Under the health emergency rule, all individuals entering to AJK would have to furnish their one month travel history at entry point and if any health official suspects any person of infected with corona virus, the official immediately will inform the deputy commissioner of the district.
All the people having travel history of the countries effected with corona virus being kept in quarantine for two weeks before allowing them to go home while the people having positive diagnosis of the virus will be treated at isolation wards in the hospitals.
Stepping up its efforts to aggressively deal with the situation, the AJK government on 23rd March imposed a three-week complete lockdown in the territory. At that time, AJK had the only region in Pakistan which has reported only one COVID-19 case, whereas the nationwide tally had crossed 875.
Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan through his video message announced that there would be a complete ban on the movement and people will not be allowed to leave their home unnecessarily.
Under the ongoing lock down, all kinds of transport is suspended and in case of emergency people will be required to obtain a travelling pass from the authorities concerned.
Grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential shops are opened and only one person per family is allowed to go out to buy essential items like groceries and medicines. On the AJK government request, armed forces were deployed in the region to assist the civil administration in coping with the corona virus crisis.
AJK government had appealed overseas Kashmiris to avoid unnecessary travel to the state in corona pandemic.
It is pertinent to mention here that due to such tightened precautionary measures; only two cases of corona virus has been reported in the AJK so far, whereas the aggregate in Pakistan soared over 1400.