- Provincial govt has asked for permission from centre to impose total lockdown for two weeks after examining Covid-19 situation
- Development comes as Delta variant cases surge even as province tightens restrictions
Karachi: The Sindh government is considering a complete lockdown in Karachi as well as other major cities in the province, and has sought permission from the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to impose a two-week restriction to curb the surge in Covid-19 cases, Aaj News reported on Wednesday.
“This is the first time that the federal and provincial governments appear to be working together to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the province, which has been made worse due to the Delta variant,” said Rafat Saeed, Aaj News Karachi Bureau Chief.
The Sindh government is seriously considering a complete lockdown, said officials privy to the evolving situation.
The complete lockdown could be imposed in Karachi, Hyderabad, and other major cities of the province, as most of the Delta variant cases are being reported from these places.
Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said on Wednesday that 43 people died due to Covid-19 in the province during the last 24 hours, a tally that is close to the highest single-day numbers as far as the province's daily record is concerned.
“This situation is enough to assess the severity of the pandemic in the fourth wave, therefore, we have to be alert to control the situation,” the chief minister said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The chief minister's office added that currently, 37,678 patients were under treatment, of them 36,292 were in home isolation, 1,341 were at different hospitals, and 45 patients were in isolation centers.
The CM said that the condition of 1,181 patients was stated to be critical. Ninety-three have been shifted to ventilators.
"Out of 2,672 new cases, 2,042 have been detected from Karachi. Of these 744 are in (Karachi) East, 475 in South, 404 in Central, 209 in Korangi, 116 in Malir, and 94 in West."
Dr Seemin Jamali, Executive Director of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) that deals with Covid-19 cases in the country’s largest city of Karachi, told Business Recorder that the situation is much more precarious than before. Her statement comes amid reports last week that hospitals in Karachi are reaching capacity with the medical community also urging stricter restrictions.
"We have never seen such numbers in the previous Covid waves," she said, adding that out of 160 beds in coronavirus-dedicated wards at JPMC, 109 were occupied on Wednesday evening.
"The Delta variant is more contagious than the previous coronavirus infections we've encountered. One person can spread it to more people if they are infected with the Delta variant."
Dr Jamali said following SOPs is the need of hour. “People have made a joke out of this. They are not following SOPs. In China, they were forced to follow instructions. Here, they aren’t.”
Dr Jamali said the medical community is now recommending a full-scale lockdown.
“We don’t need smart lockdowns. Most doctors are now recommending a full-scale lockdown for at least two weeks. Also, we cannot reopen all things in a hurry – it has to be a phased reopening of places."
On Tuesday, the Sindh CM said that there will be no politics on Covid and all stakeholders will be taken on board in the current situation. He also noted that the coronavirus task force will monitor the situation again on July 30 (Friday) and will take appropriate measures if the Covid situation does not improve.
Earlier, CM Murad announced that restrictions across the province are being tightened amid a surge in Covid infections.
On Tuesday, Sindh government also directed the provincial police chief and Karachi commissioner to stop the public from driving around for reasons other than emergencies and crucial work.
The federal government has promised to assist the Sindh government.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) recommended imposing a complete lockdown in Karachi amid a massive surge in Covid-19 cases in the city.
Pakistan also reported 4,119 coronavirus cases at a positivity level of 7.9% during the last 24 hours, with both numbers recording their highest levels in over two months, as concerns around the fourth Covid-19 wave come to life.
On May 19, Pakistan reported 4,207 infections, while the highest positivity ratio was recorded on May 20 at 8.22%.