Permitting congregational prayers a ‘risky shot’: Sindh Governor

Centre has given Sindh govt all the assistance it has sought, claims Imran Ismail

​ Our Correspondent April 23, 2020
A file photo of Imran Ismail.

HYDERABAD: The Sindh government's grievance that the Centre is not helping it enough in fighting the battle against Covid-19 is baseless, claimed Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, while also calling the decision to reopen mosques a ‘risky shot.’

Addressing a press conference in Hyderabad on Wednesday, he said that the federal government had supplied large consignments of medical equipment besides letting the province utilise a $10 million International Monetary Fund loan.

"Whatever assistance the province sought was given and [the federal government is] ready to provide further help if they want," he said, noting that the ruling party's leaders in Sindh, as well as the provincial ministers, had made statements blaming the Centre for leaving the province in the lurch.

According to a breakup of the items provided by the Centre to the province, the latter has so far received over 345,000 surgical masks, 70,000 testing kits, 9,647 N-95 masks and 69,299 protective suits. Moreover, as many as 49,587 surgical caps, 31,614 pairs of gloves, over 4,000 safety goggles, 37,600 shoe covers, 1,538 face shields, 25,000 virus transportation medium, and as many swab testing kits have also been supplied.

The other items provided to the province include bio-hazard suits, body bags, safety boxes, and polymerase chain reaction machines besides an 'uncountable' number of bottles of sanitisers, he claimed.

"The virus testing capacity in Sindh is still limited and it will grow when the Centre will provide more kits," Ismail said.

Commenting on the conditional permission accorded to the mosques to resume congregations prayers, the governor termed the prime minister's (PM) decision a 'risky shot', adding that the ulema have been given the authority to monitor the implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the mosques.

"The ulema assured the PM that if the 20-point SOPs are not implemented, he can review the decision," he said, optimistic that the nation would not disappoint over the relaxation.

Ismail further said that the government would soon introduce a 'smart lockdown' under which the businesses will be allowed to function while following the health advisories. "For example, a shop will not be allowed to deal with more than four customers at a time and gloves will be necessary while receiving cash," he explained.

Stating that Pakistan still ranked among the countries with the lowest death rate due to coronavirus, he still cautioned people against being careless, pointing to the outbreaks in the United States and Europe.

The governor had earlier visited Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme (EECP) centres and held meetings with the district administrations in Hyderabad, Jamshoro, and Matiari districts. EECP director-general Abdul Raheem Shaikh informed him that 50,456 residents of Hyderabad had received cash grants so far, while as many as 125,047 people in the district were on the list of beneficiaries. In Matiari, 40,735 out of 78,397 people had received the amount, while in Jamshoro, 40,793 out of 84,043 registered individuals had benefited so far.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2020.

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