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KARACHI: The Sindh government, keeping in view the fresh spike in Covid-19 cases, has taken some pragmatic policy decisions to ban inter-provincial transport, close educational institutions, slash government offices staff by 80 percent and purchase two oxygen plants, one of them would be airlifted from china.

“We have also decided to seek the services of armed forces to assist district administration and the police to implement Coronavirus Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the province.”

This was disclosed by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while addressing a press conference at the auditorium of the Sindh Assembly just after presiding over a Provincial Task Force meeting on Coronavirus. He was flanked by provincial ministers, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Syed Nasir Shah, Ikram Dharejo, Advisor Law Murtaza Wahab and Parliamentary Secretary on Health Qasim Siraj Soomro.

The chief minister said that the coronavirus situation was comparatively better in Sindh but during the last 60 days detection ratio of the new cases has shown a dangerous surge. “This is something to be worried about,” he said and added on February 24 we had 348 new cases and on April 25 the number of new cases has increased to 952. “This shows that the situation is aggravating,” he said.

The CM said that in Sindh we have 664 ICU beds with ventilators, of them only 47 were occupied. He added that there were 1,872 HDU beds with oxygen facilities in the province, of them 296 were occupied. “It still means we have enough facilities to deal with the patients but we have decided to upgrade and multiply our facilities,” he said.

Murad Ali Shah said that the oxygen was available in enough quantities in the province. “Alhamdullillah, we have no issue with [oxygen] the shortage - we have three oxygen plants installed in government facilities, one at Trauma Centre Karachi and other two are at Dow University Ojha Campus and Gambat Institute of Health Sciences, Khairpur,” he said.

“We have decided to purchase two more plants, one from Italy and another one from China,” the CM said and added, “I am assessing ways and means to airlift one of the oxygen plants at the earliest.”

Shah said that still the province of Sindh was in a comfortable position, but the situation could get worse, therefore in our Taskforce [on Coronavirus] meeting we have taken some important decisions.

Giving details of the decision, Murad Ali Shah said that all the schools, colleges and universities have been closed with immediate effect. All the provincial government offices have been directed to slash their staff by 80 percent. The staff members would work from their homes, he said and added the offices of essential services would function as usual. The new office timing would be from 9am to 2pm.

Shah said that the private offices would have to slash their 50 percent staff, in case of failure their offices would be sealed.

Talking about markets, the chief minister said that they have been allowed to operate from early morning to 6pm, as has been decided by the NCOC. “We are sure the traders would follow the SOPs, otherwise the government can impose more restrictions,” he warned.

He said that visitation in prisons have been banned. “No visitor would be allowed to meet the inmates in jail,” he said categorically.

Murad Ali Shah said that Inter-city bus transport has been banned from April 29, 2021 – however goods transports would operate as usual. “I would take all the chief ministers into confidence about the decision of banning inter-city transport so that passenger transport may not rush at our borders,” he said.

Industrial units would operate as usual but with SOPs, he said and added the restaurants would only offer home delivery and take-way services. Indoor and outdoor dining have been banned completely, he said.

The chief minister said that the provincial government has decided to seek the services of armed forces to assist the district administration and the police to enforce Coronavirus SOPs. He added that a letter to the ministry of interior seeking the services of armed forces would be written today [Monday] and its post facto approval would be sought from the cabinet on Tuesday.

Murad Ali Shah clarified that all the hospitals, public and private, and medical stores have been exempted from all the restrictions. They will operate as usual.

Current situation: Sharing daily situation report with the media, the chief minister said that six more patients died overnight lifting the death toll to 4,605 that constituted 1.7 percent death rate which was lower than other provinces, except Balochistan.

Shah said that 11,855 tests were conducted overnight which detected 727 new cases that constituted 6.1 percent current detection rate. He added that so far 3,578,180 samples have been tested against which eight percent or 279,271 cases have been detected, of them 94 percent or 262,639 have recovered, including 343 overnight.

The CM said that currently 12,027 patients were under treatment, of them 11,485 were in home isolation, nine at isolation centres and 533 at different hospitals. He added that the condition of 509 patients was stated to be critical, including 43 shifted to ventilators. According to the chief minister out of 727 new cases, Karachi has 258 cases, including 133 in East, 53 Malir, 29 Central, 28 South, 13 Korangi and two in District West. Hyderabad has 140 cases, Shikarpur 58, Thatta and Sujawal 39 each, Larkana 26, Mirpurkhas 23, Dadu 22, Naushehroferoze 19, Shaheed Benazirabad 16, Ghotki and Jamshoro 14 each, kambar 12, Tando Allahyar and Badin eight each, Khairpur seven, Sanghar six, Sukkur three, Jacobabad and Matiari one each.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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