KARACHI: The Sindh government dismissed on Sunday the rumours circulating on social media of an emergency lockdown in the province.
A statement issued by the Chief Minister (CM) House denied the rumoured lockdown while Sindh CM Syed Murad Ali Shah also issued directives to register cases against persons spreading the rumours.
He instructed the Sindh chief secretary to write a letter to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in this regard, registering cybercrime cases against those perpetrating false statements pertaining to a lockdown.
So far Pakistan has reported 53 COVID-19 cases – 35 in Sindh, 10 in Balochistan, 4 in Islamabad, 3 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 1 in Punjab. The Sindh province now has three locally transmitted cases.
Meanwhile, Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah too categorically denied the news of an emergency lockdown in the province.
“The rumours are false. There is no need to panic,” he said. “Some elements on social media are telling the masses to stock up on essentials and learn how to ration, which is absolutely useless.”
He added that the initiatives being taken by the provincial government were “simply precautionary measures” and assured that it was capable of handling any crisis if it emerged.
Rangers delay recruitment
Meanwhile, the Sindh Rangers has delayed its recruitment process amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the country. A press release issued on Sunday said the new schedule will be published soon.
With two new cases, Sindh’s tally for the coronavirus reached 17. Pakistan confirmed its 34th case on Sunday with a new case emerging in Islamabad. Balochistan now has a total of 10 confirmed cases while Islamabad has four and Gilgit Baltistan has three.
Action plan to contain outbreak
On Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) to cobble a unified approach to contain the outbreak.
The huddle was attended by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed provincial chief ministers, top advisors and cabinet members.
It was decided to close borders with Iran and Afghanistan, allow only three airports – Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore – to operate international flights in limited numbers while other airports will see domestic flights, and ban public gatherings.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been tasked to coordinate with provincial governments and lead the fight against novel coronavirus. It was also decided to close all educational institutions until April 5.
In a first, the Pakistan Day parade on March 23 have also been cancelled.
The Sindh government has banned public gatherings, shut down educational institutions, postponed religious celebrations and closed shrines, marriage halls, cinemas, gyms, social clubs etc. Punjab government is said to have made a similar decision.