KARACHI: Sindh Chief Ministers Syed Murad Ali Shah on Sunday ordered closure of all educational institutions, including tuition and coaching centres, across the province till March 13 — the time required for completion of the isolation period of the suspects for the coronavirus.

He said strict action should be taken against those educational institutions who defied the government’s orders, which were hugely important in the times the coronavirus emergency.

The task force had gone into session for the fourth day running which was attended by provincial ministers, Dr Azra Pechuho, Saeed Ghani, Nasir Shah, adviser to CM Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, principal secretary to CM Sajid Abro, Commissioner Iftikhar Shahlwani, secretaries for finance and health, representatives of airport services, Civil Aviation Authority, Federal Investigation Agency, director general of health services, and representatives of the Indus Hospital, the Aga Khan University Hospital and others.

The chief minister consulted threadbare with the task force members, doctors in particular, and decided to keep the educational institutions closed till March 13.

“This closure will help the suspects kept in isolation to complete their quarantine period,” he said.

‘This closure will help the suspects kept in isolation to complete their quarantine period’

The meeting was told that there were six suspects hailing from Khairpur, Jacobabad, Tando Jam and Karachi South who had been kept in quarantine. Their samples had also been sent for testing.

The meeting was told that out of six samples sent for tests one result had been received which was negative while results of the remaining samples were being awaited.

The meeting was told that 738 passengers had arrived in the city at Jinnah Terminal since Jan 15. The figures received from Taftan and Zhob revealed that 13,098 passengers had arrived from Iran.

The chief minister directed all agencies, including the FIA, and the health ministry to keep close coordination with the officers working at the Taftan border so that they keep sharing day-to-day data of the passengers arriving.

Mr Shah said the data must contain names of the passengers, dates of their arrival, their home districts, talukas and complete addresses, CNIC numbers, mobile numbers etc so that they could be tracked whenever it was needed.

The meeting was told that the airport authorities had started enforcing all effective screening measures to ensure no active case of the coronavirus could be able to enter Karachi unchecked. The chair also directed the city commissioner to visit Karachi airport from time to time.

The chief minister was told the local government minister, mayor of Karachi, commissioner of Karachi and other officials had visited the airport and found “best screening arrangements” were in place.

The chief minister in his message to the people of Sindh said there was no need to be worried or panicked.

“The measures we are taking such as closing of educational institutions, tracking the passengers and coordinating with the families of the pilgrims are purely for the safety of our people,” he said.

He urged them the people of Sindh to cooperate with the government to enable the government keeping the province and the country safe and secure from further intrusion of the deadly virus. He added that the cases that had been diagnosed were being contained.

The chief minister directed the health ministry to share the related details and data it had gathered with the deputy commissioners to get them updated and enable them keeping following the pilgrims and their family members at their addresses for necessary guidance.

The chief minister asked the commissioner of the Sindh capital to weigh against the data provided by the airport authorities with that of the National Database and Registration Authority so the addresses of some “missing pilgrims” could be authenticated for further course of action.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2020

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