The Supreme Court of Pakistan questioned the authorities on Tuesday regarding the provision of facilities at the coronavirus quarantine centres across the country to isolate and treat patients.
The five-member bench of the apex court resumed hearing the suo moto case today, where the National Disaster Management Authority’s Chairman LT Gen Mohammad Afzal was also present.
“The videos on social media are depicting the dire condition of the quarantine centres,” remarked Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed.
The CJP said that at the quarantine centres, people are not getting basic facilities such as running water and clean washrooms.
“Our concern is not related to the expenditure, it is about the quality of services,” said the top judge to the officials present before it.
“We have seen videos of people from Lahore Expo Centre and Islamabad quarantine centres,” said Justice Ahmed, adding that people are agitated and urging others to ‘die abroad but not come back to Pakistan’.
“10 people are sitting together at the quarantine centres, what sort of quarantine is it?” he said.
The CJP remarked that Pakistan is a very poor country and this aspect is being neglected. The general impression is that the resources are not in the hands of relevant people, he added.
“Everything is not about money, do not base this on money… Money is not important, humans are.”
‘Positive tests at government hospitals, negative in private labs’
The CJP noted that the public is facing an uncertain situation regarding the coronavirus tests as they do not know whether they are actually infected or not.
“In Lahore, four people tested positive at a government facility, but at a private lab they tested negative,” he pointed out.
The CJP continued that in a recent clip, a man was seen crying that his wife was not infected with the virus but the health officials did not pay heed to him.
“What to do in such a situation?… The relatives of a patient keep complaining that their patient does not have the coronavirus,” said the CJP.
Giving the example of the SC Lahore registry, the top judge said that the employees faced a similar situation where they tested negative at a private lab.
He observed that there are resources present to facilitate the public but they are not performing to their maximum potential.
The apex court stated that the NDMA is working primarily in cities but not in far-flung villages.
Justice Gulzar noted that all the major quarantine centres are in big cities. “All the government resources should be utilised for people.”
‘No PPE kit imported since April 20’
The NDMA chairman briefed the court regarding the government’s measures.
Since April 20 there has been no import of a PPE kit in the country, he told the court, adding that 300 ventilators out of 1,187 ordered have been received so far.
“We want products of good quality,” remarked the CJP, adding that the officials are importing safety equipment from only ‘one party’ in China.
The court emphasized that the country should be self-sufficient in the production of safety gear, to which the NDMA chairman responded that Pakistan is producing one million kits per month.
AG urges court to give orders keeping in view severity of situation
The Attorney General said that due to the court’s recent order to reopen shopping malls and small markets, the public is thinking that the coronavirus issue is not a serious matter.
The AG pointed out that the officials are now facing difficulty in implementation of measures due to the apex court’s orders.
He requested the court to keep in view the severity of the situation while giving remarks and orders.
Following which, the court stated that people are being affected by the coronavirus on a large scale and the SC will review the situation after Eid.
The court said that it gave earlier orders in the wake of Eid season but it will hold another meeting after the occasion.
The apex court subsequently adjourned the hearing until June 8.