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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, in view of aggravating fourth wave of the Coronavirus in the province, particularly in Karachi, has decided to impose a “mild” lockdown for nine days.

The lockdown would begin from July 31 and to continue till August 8. Only export-oriented, food and healthcare -related industries, pharmacies, bakeries and other essential services will operate. However, markets, government offices and intra-city transport would remain closed all over the province, with a special focus on the port city.

It is not a complete lockdown like that which was imposed last year but this is a bit milder lockdown, being imposed to save precious lives and to get a breathing space for our strained healthcare facilities, he said while addressing a press conference here on Friday at CM House.

Sindh decides to impose lockdown in Karachi till August 8

He was accompanied by Minister for Information Nasir Hussain Shah, Advisor for Law Murtaza Wahab and Parliamentary Secretary on Health Qasim Siraj Soomro.

Murad Ali Shah said that earlier he had presided over a meeting of the taskforce on coronavirus in which parliamentary leaders in the Sindh Assembly, leaders of trade associations like the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and other stakeholders were invited for consultation and sensitization.

He said a similar meeting was held with religious scholars on Thursday to brief them about the alarming COVID situation and mounting pressure on public-sector hospitals. I am thankful that they not only understood the gravity of situation but also assured their support in the larger interest of public health,” he said.

The CM added that just after taking this decision he had taken the federal minister Asad Umar and PM Advisor Faisal Sultan into confidence and thanked them for their support and cooperation.

He said that the taskforce meeting was told that the infection rate in Karachi has touched the mark of 23.51 percent on July 29. He said Karachi East was the worst affected district with 33 percent infection rate, followed by Korangi with infection rate of 21 percent, Central with 20 percent, West with 21 percent, South and Malir with 17 percent each. “This cannot be termed a normal situation, but it warrants taking some extraordinary measures,” he said.

Talking about the Covid death rate, the CM said that in July alone 469 patients had died while in June 428 deaths were reported. “As many as 44 patients died on Thursday and 43 more on Wednesday,” he said.

Shah said that the government hospitals were under huge pressure due to increasing number of serious COVID patients. He said in this critical situation his government has to strengthen the healthcare facilities in terms of paramedical staff, technicians, beds, ventilators, oxygen supply and other related facilities.

He said the delta variant of Covid was spreading very fast in the city. He said that a doctor a major private hospital of Karachi told the taskforce meeting that all their COVID patients were detected being suffering from 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 overall in the province we, as a government, are bound to take strict measures to save our people, he said.

Complete lockdown not the solution, says Asad Umar

He said that keeping in view the worsening situation his government has decided to impose a lockdown which is a little loose to some extent as healthcare, 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 healthcare services have been allowed to operate.

He said that the government offices would remain closed till August 8, and a similar advice would be given to the private-sector offices to be remained closed or work with the skeleton staff following strict SOPs.

The CM said that the takeaway facility at restaurants had been suspended till August 9; however, home delivery service would continue. He announced that the scheduled examinations have been postponed for which the concerned educational boards would announce new dates.

Shah said that he would request the offices of the federal government, banks and others to cut staff attendance and continue their business hours with strict SOPs. He urged doctors, public representatives, religious scholars, parliamentarians and media houses to play their due role to sensitize citizens to stay home besides getting them vaccinated and respect lockdown so that the severity of the fourth wave could be brought down in the province.

Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister chaired a meeting of provincial Taskforce on Coronavirus which apart from regular members was attended by MPAs Bilal Ghaffar of PTI, Abdul Rasheed of MMA, Qasim Fakhri of TLP and Hasnain Mirza GDA. Noted businessmen Zubair Motiwala, Shaukat Suleman of FPCCI, Saqib Goodluck of KCCIZ and others also attended the meeting, where they were apprised of the situation and were consulted for taking decisions with a collective wisdom.

The meeting was told that the vaccination drive was in a full swing. The provincial government has received 7,600,997 doses of vaccines of which 6,111,027 have already been utilized.

The CM said that the salaries of those government employees who have not get them vaccinated as yet would be stopped from August.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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