The Supreme Court on Monday expressed concerns over the government’s plan to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus as cases in the country are increasing fast, a private TV channel reported. While hearing a petition pertaining to release of under-trail prisoners amidst the coronavirus pandemic in the country, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed questioned the state’s preparedness in dealing with the crisis. He also questioned government’s action plan regarding the spread of the virus as well as Special Assistant to PM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza’s qualification. “What sort of an emergency has been imposed in the country where all the hospitals in the country have been closed?” he remarked. “Private clinics in the country have also been closed,” he observed. “No one knows what is happening on the ground,” he continued. “Is this how we will deal with this pandemic? The Centre has nothing and they are doing nothing as well,” he added. To this, Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan informed the court that they have submitted a report in this regard. “The federal government is taking all the necessary steps,” he said. However, the top judge further said, “The public has been left on their own. The provincial governments keep talking about distribution of rations and funds and the chief ministers keep issuing orders from their homes. Nobody knows about the ground realities.” To this, the attorney general requested the chief justice to take a briefing in his chamber. “What will you tell us there that we don’t already know,” Justice Gulzar remarked. He also questioned the qualification of SAPM Dr Mirza. “Zafar Mirza only comes on the television for projections. We are not coronologists. We just want to make sure the public is getting their basic rights,” he said. Moving towards the petition filed pertaining to the release of under-trail prisoners, CJP Gulzar said the court cannot release the under-trial prisoners. “The government needs to find a way around this. Those who have the virus will infect others as well. The government needs to impose precautionary measures in prisons,” he said. Justice Qazi Ameen, who is also part of the five-member bench said, the court is concerned about the lives of people. “If the infected person is not in the jail, others will be safe,” he said. Justice Umer Atta Bandial questioned that if the infected person is not in jail, then how will the others be infected. “We need to make SOPs to deal with these situations. A large number of people live in police and army barracks and SOPs are followed there,” he said. “Homes should not be compared to jails,” the attorney general said. “I have made my suggestions regarding the prisoner release,” he added. “What is the logic behind releasing prisoners involved in serious crimes?” Justice Bandial remarked. “We are aware that the high court does not have the right to take suo motu action,” he said. CJP Gulzar then asked the attorney general if he is sure the government will listen to his recommendations. “Can the responsible courts not grant bails? Islamabad High Court released NAB prisoners,” he remarked. The court also ordered for better facilities to be set up at Taftan border to screen patients and to keep them in isolation. “Proper quarantine centres and isolation wards should be set up at Taftan, Torkham and Chaman borders. A quarantine centre should be set up within the next two weeks. Each person should have a separate room, bathroom and good food,” Justice Gulzar said. The court then adjourned the hearing till next week.