LAHORE:29 March: PML-N President and National Assembly Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif has demanded that patients suffering from Covid-19 must be removed from mainstream hospitals forthwith and instead marriage halls, schools, colleges and mosques should be used as quarantine facilities. Presiding over a consultative meeting of doctors and medical experts through a video link here on Saturday, Mr Sharif said: “Coronavirus testing should be made free of cost with immediate effect and those who have come from across the border should be mapped. There is an imperative and unavoidable need for a disease surveillance system, which is currently non-existent. Data regarding many have been screened and how many have been tested should be shared with the nation on a daily basis. Hiding the facts and figures is not a solution but part of the problem.” Shahbaz Sharif demanded that doctors and policemen should be trained and a special plan be prepared and help be sought from China for the training of doctors and medical staff of the particular manner of caretaking, treatment, use of particular technology and testing. “Even if all needed equipment is provided, such incapacity will prevent the optimum performance without proper training,” he added. In the first phase, master trainers should be created who can then fan out extensive trainings to consequent batches. Bio-safety level-2 kits in the district headquarters’ PCRs can also be utilised, he proposed and said coronavirus patients should not be treated as untouchables but must be deal with care and compassion, he said. Mr Sharif demanded that a special life and health insurance plan be started for the front-line soldiers in this fight, the doctors, nurses and the paramedics. Staff of the Hepatitis B and C laboratories established during the PML-N tenure must be provided with corona PCR and bio-safety kits which can save valuable time in testing and many precious lives can be saved through timely intervention. Dr Saeed Akhtar, Dr Naeemuddin Mian, former Director General Health Dr Zahid Pervez participated in the meeting. Dr Sajjad Rafiq, YDA’s Dr Salman Haseeb, Dr Naeem Mian, Dr Numan Chauhdry, Paramadical Association’s Malik Munir, nursing staff and medical assistants also attended the meeting. Shahbaz Sharif severely criticised the Imran Khan government on ‘unprecedented’ rupee depreciation. He said rupee was losing its value because of poor economic policies of the PTI government. Shahbaz has written to Chinese President Xi Jinping for his support to Pakistan during Covid-19 crisis. In a letter to the Chinese president on Saturday, Mr Sharif said: “... Thank you for giving ‘preferential treatment’ to Pakistan in the provision of much-needed medical equipment which will help save precious lives and turn the tide in our battle against coronavirus.Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2020.