To address the worsening air quality and smog situation in Punjab, the interim government has mandated the use of face masks for all residents in smog-affected districts for a week. Mohsin Naqvi, the Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, emphasized the collective responsibility of prioritizing health in a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter).
A notification from Punjab’s healthcare department highlighted the elevated Air Quality Index (AQI) caused by smog, posing a severe and immediate threat to public health across all age groups. The government urged citizens to adopt safety measures to prevent and control airborne diseases in the province.
In response to deteriorating Air Quality, the Punjab Government announces a 1-week mandate for wearing of face masks for all citizens in smog effected districts of Punjab. Prioritising health is our collective responsibility. Please adhere to the guidelines for a safer community. pic.twitter.com/qe3jBdUjvY— Mohsin Naqvi (@MohsinnaqviC42) November 19, 2023
Ali Jan Khan, Secretary of the Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department, announced that, with the chief minister’s approval, all citizens are required to wear face masks during outdoor activities. This directive will be enforced in the Lahore Division (District Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Kasur) and Gujranwala Division (District Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Narowal, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahuddin), where the AQI is highest, for the next week, from November 20 to November 26, 2023.
In a proactive measure, the government revealed plans to conduct artificial rain in the provincial capital later this month. Provincial Environment Minister Bilal Afzal proposed forming a team and working group to explore the possibility of using aircraft for artificial rain.
Several districts in Punjab, including Lahore, Jhang, Hafizabad, Khanewal, Nankana, Bahawalnagar, and Sheikhupura, are facing severe air pollution and worsening smog. In response, the Lahore High Court issued orders to close all schools and colleges on Saturdays in smog-affected districts. Additionally, the court directed the government to implement a two-day-a-week work-from-home policy.