KARACHI (Dunya News) - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, keeping in view the spike of fourth wave of coronavirus in the province, particularly deteriorating situation in Karachi Friday decided to impose a lockdown for next nine days (July 31 to August 8) under which only export-oriented, food and health -related industries, pharmacies, bakeries and other essential services would operate, otherwise all the markets, government offices, intra-city transport service would remain closed all over the province with special focus in the city.
“It is not a complete lock down as was imposed last year but this is a little loose-lockdown being imposed to save our people and to get a breathing-space to further strengthen our health facilities which have come under immense pressure,”
the chief minister stated this while addressing to a press conference here at CM House. He was accompanied by Sindh Minister Information Nasir Shah, Advisor law Murtaza Wahab and Parliamentary Secretary on Health Qasim Siraj Soomro.
Murad Ali Shah said that earlier he had presided over a meeting of a task force on coronavirus in which parliamentary leaders in the Sindh assembly, leaders of traders’ associations such as FPCCI and KCCI and others were invited for consultation and sensitization.
A similar meeting was held with ulema on Thursday and all of them were briefed about the alarming COVID situation and the pressure on public sector hospitals.
“I am thankful to all of them that they not only understood the situation and gravity of issue but assured their support in the larger interest of public health,” he said and added just after taking decision he had taken Federal Minister Asad Umar and PM Advisor Faisal Sultan into confidence and thanked them for their full support and cooperation.
The CM said that in the task force meeting, the participants were told that the infection rate in Karachi had touched 23.51 percent on July 29 while Karachi East was the worst affected district with 33 percent infection rate followed by Korangi 21 percent, Central 20 percent, West 21 percent, South and Malir 17 percent each.
“This cannot be termed as a normal situation, but it warrants taking some extraordinary measures,” he said.
Talking about death rate, the CM said that in July, alone 469 patients had died while in June 428 deaths were reported. “44 patients had died on Thursday and 43 on Wednesday,” he said and termed it a very critical situation.
Murad Ali Shah said that the government hospitals were under pressure with ever increasing numbers of serious COVID patients. Therefore, he said his government had to strengthen the health facilities in terms of para-medical staff, technicians, beds, ventilators, oxygen and with such other facilities.
The CM said the delta variant was spreading very fast in the city and a doctor of Aga Khan told the task force meeting that their total COVID patients were detected of delta variant. “A patient of delta variant infects five other persons- in such a situation when the detection ratio has reached 33 percent in a district and 13 percent in the province we, as a government, are bound to take strict measures to save our people,” he said.
Murad Ali Shah said that keeping in view the COVID situation and spike in the fourth wave his government had decided to impose lockdown which was a little loose to some extent as health & medical, food and export related industries, grocery shops, medical stores, bakeries, meat and vegetable shops, petrol pumps, media houses/persons, utility companies municipal services, medical and health services had been allowed to operate, otherwise everything would remain closed.
The chief minister said that the government offices would remain closed till August 8, and a similar advice would be given to the private sector offices to close them or operate them with Skeleton staff with strict SOPs.
He said that the takeaway facility at restaurants had been suspended till August 9, however home delivery service would continue. He announced that the scheduled examination had been postponed for which the concerned boards would announce a new date.
Murad Ali Shah said that he would request the offices of the federal government such as banks and others to cut staff attendance and continue their business hours with strict SOPs.
He urged doctors, public representatives, religious scholars, parliamentarians, media houses and other compelling personalities to play their role to sensitize people of the province to stay home, get them vaccinated and respect lockdown so that the severity of the fourth virus could be brought down in the province.
Earlier, the chief minister chaired a meeting of provincial Task Force on Coronavirus in which apart from regular members was attended by MPAs Bilal Ghaffar of PTI, Abdul Rasheed MMA, Qasim Fakhri TLP, Hasnain Mirza GDA, businessmen- Zubair Motiwala, Shaukat Suleman of FPCCI, Saqib Goodluck of KCCIZ and others.
In the meeting the MPAs and businessmen were apprised and were consulted for taking decisions with collective wisdom.
The meeting was informed that the vaccination drive was in full swing.
The provincial government has received 7,600,997 doses of vaccines of which 6,111,027 have been utilized. The CM said that the salaries of the government employees who had not got them vaccinated yet would be stopped from August.