KARACHI: The commissioner of Sukkur has said that 696 pilgrims had left Taftan in 17 buses on Tuesday at 6pm and they would reach Sukkur at noon on Wednesday.

He stated this while briefing the Sindh chief minister at the 20th meeting of the task force on the coronavirus held at the CM House here.

On the instructions of the chief minister three health officers were deployed at the divisional level for coordination and implementation of government decisions. The CM also directed the health department to send three laboratory technicians to the National Institute of Health, Islamabad, for training.

Fund set up

The chief minister also established a ‘Coronavirus Relief Fund’ of Rs3 billion.

He announced that he would donate one-month salary to the fund. Later, all cabinet members, advisers and special assistants to CM, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IGP Mushtaq Maher and P&D chairman Mohammad Waseem also announced that they would donate their one-month salaries to the fund. Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar also made a similar announcement.

The chief minister also announced that all the government officers of grade BPS-21 would donate half of their salaries while the employees of grade BPS-1 to 20 would contribute 10 per cent salaries and employees from grade BPS- 1 to 16 would contribute 5pc of their salaries to the fund.

The chief minister also approved transfer of Rs1bn from the relief fund into the virus fund.

Rs3bn fund set up for relief of coronavirus patients

The coronavirus fund would be under Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah while other members would be the finance secretary from the government side and Dr Abdul Bari of the Indus Hospital, Mushtaq Chapra and Faisal Edhi would be private members.

The funds would be used by the committee in a transparent manner. The finance secretary and a private member would operate the account with their joint signatures.

The chief minister appealed to the philanthropists, industrialists and well-off people to donate to the fund so that proper care of the patients, suspected patients and people of Sindh at large could be ensured.

Health facilities

In the morning CM Shah presided over a meeting in which he decided to convert a block of Sukkur Labour Colony developed as isolation centre into a full-fledged hospital to provide full medical facilities to the pilgrims living there.

The hospital would have a medical superintendent with all other medical, paediatrician, paramedical and janitorial staff. It would have an OPD facility and a proper ward equipped with necessary gadgets.

The chief minister distributed health and pilgrims-related assignments among the officers of the health and home departments.

The additional chief secretary, home department, was assigned to coordinate with the airport authorities, immigration, federal government and other provinces. The irrigation secretary was given the task to look after the Sukkur isolation centre and coordinate among the different hospitals of the division for shifting of patients or provision of medicines etc.

The additional health secretary was directed to coordinate for the movement of patients from one hospital to another.

Making hospitals functional

The chief minister directed the chief secretary to take necessary measures for functionalising the newly-constructed hospitals almost in all the district headquarters and taluka headquarters. “This is a difficult situation and we will have to further strengthen our healthcare system,” he said.

Mr Shah said that the people stuck in Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UK and other countries were set to return, therefore new labour colonies at Nooriabad, Kotri, Hyderabad and Shaheed Benazirabad should be developed as isolation centres on the Sukkur model.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2020