As the third wave of the coronavirus sweeps across Sindh, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah announced on Thursday to close all shops, including grocery stores at 6pm. Restaurants will not be permitted to offer takeaways after sunset but they may continue home deliveries, he directed.
"We would further tighten enforcement of SOPs after Sunday and close Hawksbay, Sea View and other such recreational facilities for visitors," he added, chairing a meeting of the coronavirus task force at the CM House. Besides, the provincial government has announced that all markets and businesses are to remain shut on Sunday - a day prior to the Eidul Fitr holidays beginning from May 10. The restrictions will remain in place till May 16. Only grocery stores and essential services will be permitted to remain open during the closure.
The meeting further decided to provide coronavirus vaccines to private hospitals with the instruction to administer the anti-Covid jabs free of charge.
Moreover, the meeting suggested that the federal government be asked to ban passenger train services during the Eid holidays to further curb the spread.
The provincial health department apprised the meeting that testing facilities across Sindh are being enhanced while quarantine facilities at local hotels are being revived as well. Moreover, the import of small-scale oxygen generation plants is in progress, said the health minister.
The health department was directed to provide anti-Covid jabs to private hospitals.
With regards to critical care facilities, it was stated that out of 647 ICU beds, 55 are occupied. Similarly, 394 HDU beds out of 1,769 are occupied.
The meeting was told that Covid infections are on the rise in Karachi, where the detection ratio has been recorded at a dangerous 14.32 per cent. Now, Hyderabad has started showing decline in its new cases. Hyderabad which had a positivity ratio of 20 per cent on April 29 has shown 11.92 per cent on May 5, it was apprised.
The meeting was informed that in April, 154 patients had succumbed to the contagion and in the first week of May alone, the virus has claimed 33 lives.
Besides, the meeting was told 1,239 passengers arrived at Jinnah terminal between Wednesday and Thursday and of them five were diagnosed as positive when tested.
Clamping down on violations
It was observed that people are not following SOPs.
On May 5, 627 people were challaned and fines amounting to Rs1276.5 million were imposed in the metropolis alone. The district administration of Karachi sealed 64 shops, arrested seven persons and warned 369.
Law enforcement personnel were directed to ensure compliance on SOPs.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2021.