Sharae Pakistan has uncharacteristically little traffic on Monday, as citizens fear a widespread outbreak of the novel coronavirus. At least 115 new cases were confirmed in Sindh on the day, bringing the province’s tally to 150 patients. PHOTO: ONLINE

Voluntary isolation is the only solution, says Murad

Warns public to stop thronging eateries, says he will be forced to order closure otherwise

​ Our Correspondent March 17, 2020
KARACHI: As the province confirmed 115 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah urged people to adopt voluntary isolation measures, terming it ‘the only solution’ to contain the spread of the infectious virus.

Sindh’s tally of coronavirus patients swelled to 150, while Pakistan’s overall number rose to 183. Health department spokesperson Meeran Yousuf told The Express Tribune that four patients tested positive late Sunday while on Monday, 106 surfaced among the pilgrims quarantined in Sukkur and another five emerged in Karachi.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Shah said that he was not worried about the patients from Taftan who had arrived in Sukkur, since they were subject to proper isolation. “The dangerous element is cropping up in Karachi, where several cases of local transmission have emerged,” he explained, asking people to follow social distancing guidelines and avoid unnecessary meetings.

Reacting to a report by the Karachi commissioner, stating that citizens were still thronging restaurants, hotels and tea shops, the CM expressed his disappointment. “This is not acceptable,” he maintained. “I request people to adopt self-isolation, otherwise I would have no option but to close these facilities.”

Pakistan confirms 20 COVID-19 cases in a day

He directed the police and administration to devise a plan to control the crowds, or else give notice to eateries to close their facilities by 9pm.

Giving details of the 27 cases that had been confirmed in Karachi by the time of his press conference, the CM said that nine patients had returned from Syria, three from Dubai, four from Iran, one from Qatar and two from Saudi Arabia, while eight had no recent international travel history.

“We all have to understand the severity of the situation,” he said, explaining that coronavirus spread among people through contact. “This is purely a matter of precaution, but people are still holding social gatherings and crowding in shopping centres. This is what I want you [the people of Sindh] to avoid.”

He reiterated the need for people living in the thickly populated cities and towns of the province to keep a distance from each other and repeatedly wash their hands.

The CM further clarified that only those with recent international travel history or contact with travellers would be tested for free, adding that others who wanted to be tested could do so at their own expense.

Responding to a question about the possibility of a lockdown, Shah said that grocery stores, supermarkets, vegetable shops and meat shops would remain open in all conditions. “I am surprised that people have started stocking up on groceries based on the rumour of lockdown,” he said, adding that there was no need to do so. “We will not allow hoarding nor will we close shops.”

Arrangements in Sukkur

Meanwhile, in the daily coronavirus taskforce meeting, Shah directed the Sukkur commissioner to make effective arrangements for the patients from Taftan.

The commissioner said that he had set up a separate isolation block for the newly-diagnosed patients, adding that they were all cooperating with the medical team.

The CM was also informed that some doctors were initially reluctant to enter the isolation centre, but once briefed by a team of doctors sent by Shah, they volunteered their services.

Sindh reports 47 new coronavirus cases, ballooning Pakistan tally to 183

Shah also dispatched ulema from Karachi to meet the agitated pilgrims, in order to console them and reassure them of the support of the government and religious leaders.

He further directed the commissioner to make arrangements for the second batch of over 600 pilgrims from Taftan, due to arrive in Sukkur today (Tuesday).

Shah also instructed the Karachi commissioner and Sindh police chief to crack down on shops and godowns hoarding sanitisers, hand-wash and tissue papers, putting those who were profiteering off these items behind bars.

Moreover, the chief minister briefed Prime Minister Imran Khan about the measures taken by the Sindh government to contain the novel coronavirus. He also met parliamentarians from different parties to inform them about the steps being taken.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2020.


Naasir | 1 year ago | Reply Only solution is curfew enforced by the army. Voluntary isolation does not work with our people.
suleman | 1 year ago | Reply its like having flu . we stay at home and stop infecting others. it will go away on its own in a few weeks' time . no need to panic . try home remedies . slow the spread by staying away from crowds .
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