KARACHI: Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah expressed regret on Monday over the Sindh government not being able to slow down the spread of the virus at the desired pace despite taking timely measures, saying that it was mainly due to the unavailability of testing kits.
He expressed these views while addressing a press conference with Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani and Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh.
Further elaborating on the matter, the information minister said that testing kits were also not readily available in international market. He, however, added that the provincial government, on the directives of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, was trying to procure testing kits from the United Kingdom, so as to increase the province's testing capacity.
The minister also pointed out that while the government was taking all necessary measures to ensure that citizens practiced social distancing, the supply and transport of essential goods and delivery of vital services couldn't be stalled as the supply of many essential commodities from other countries had already come to a halt following the suspension of flight operations.
However, the CM would chair a meeting on Tuesday (today) to address the issues being faced by industrialists during the lockdown, the minister said, adding that all businesses that had their own residential colonies would likely be given permission to resume operations, provided that they followed the standard operating procedures being devised for the purpose.
Responding to claims that the Sindh government was being responsible for the wheat crisis in the province, the information minister questioned, "Was the Sindh food minister also responsible for the wheat crises in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa? At present, we have to quarantine politics and [blame] game."
Ghani, who also spoke on the occasion, said that the Sindh government had walked the walk when it came to curbing the spread of the virus and was cognisant of the troubles being faced by industries and people.
However, he admitted that the Sindh government had not been able to distribute rations among the needy the way it intended to, adding that it was on board with the federal government to provide assistance to the needy under the Benazir Income Support Programme.
Sharing details about ration distribution so far, he said that committees had been formed at the union council level for the purpose and the disbursement was being supervised and monitored by deputy commissioners.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2020.