ANI Photo | Pakistan: Punjab health dept orders closure of schools, offices in smog-hit areas from November 9-12

The Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department of Pakistan has ordered the closure of all public and private schools and offices in Lahore division and Gujranwala, Hafizabad and Narowal districts from November 9-12 due to smog, Dawn reported.
Dawn is a Pakistani English-language newspaper.
The recent development comes a week after the Punjab caretaker government imposed a ‘smog emergency’ in the province following the Lahore High Court’s direction to take immediate measures to control hazardous air quality.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority had also declared smog a “calamity” and banned the burning of crop residue.
Lahore on Tuesday recorded an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 447, according to the global air quality monitoring platform, An AQI below 50 is considered safe for breathing.
The notification issued by the provincial health department today said the spread of conjunctivitis was increasing day by day due to “bacterial or viral infection, smoke, dust or chemical exposure”.
It said: “Hence, it is mandatory to take all possible safety measures for prevention and control of this disease in the province of Punjab.”
The department ordered “restricted movement” in Lahore division, comprising Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura and Kasur, and Gujranwala, Hafizabad and Narowal districts.
The department said that these areas had the “highest air quality index” and were potential hotspots for conjunctivitis due to smog, as per Dawn.
The department said that all markets, shopping malls, restaurants, cinemas, gymnasiums, schools (public and private) and offices (public and private) would remain closed in these areas from November 9-12.
Further, there would be limited movement of people to and from these areas by public and private transport. However, certain exemptions were allowed, including for pharmacies, medical stores and petrol pumps.
Punjab interim Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Tuesday said that the provincial cabinet held a detailed meeting about the issue being faced by the citizenry due to smog.
Naqvi said that November 9 had already been declared a public holiday in the country. He added that the provincial government would also notify a holiday for all schools and offices in smog-hit areas for November 10.
“The health minister has briefed us about all the issues that are coming forward due to the smog,” Naqvi said. “There is an increase in hospital patients. The elderly are having difficulty breathing,” he noted.
He said it was impossible to end the prevailing situation but “it can be controlled and reduced”.
“Another thing is that you must’ve noticed that New Delhi has similar conditions as us and they’ve shut down schools there as well,” he said. “They’ve had to make difficult decisions as well and because of this, we are also monitoring cities that have extreme smog outside Pakistan.”
CM Naqvi said the Punjab inspector general of police had taken responsibility for enforcing all the measures. “This is not permanent; it is a one-time thing,” he assured. “We will try to improve things in these four days.”
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has meanwhile issued a smog advisory.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the NDMA said that smog was likely to reach “dangerous levels” in central and south Punjab, including Gujranwala, Multan, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad.
“Sargodha, Dera Ghazi Khan, and Sahiwal may also witness smog,” the statement said, adding that Rawalpindi and Islamabad may also be affected.

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