KARACHI: Sindh education minister and a key member of the provincial cabinet, Saeed Ghani, tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, prompting him to go into self-isolation for the next two weeks.

The move caused the chief minister to get himself tested for the virus and order tests of all those members of his team who had been in contact with Mr Ghani.

In a video statement, Mr Ghani said his samples were taken a couple of days ago for a Covid-19 test which turned out positive on Monday. He, however, advised people to follow precautionary measures while maintaining social distancing through the recent lockdown instead of panicking.

“I have, however, felt no symptoms which are largely circulated over the media as I have not been suffering from fever or cough, neither am I feeling any weakness,” he said in the statement. “I feel myself absolutely fit and healthy, but still I am going into self-isolation. I would do all my duties while staying in isolation for the next couple of weeks.”

He also advised all his friends, party workers, colleagues and media persons who had been in contact with him or had seen him for different reasons during the past two weeks to go for the test and stay away from gatherings.

“The Sindh government has made every possible decision to keep you and your family safe. This lockdown is for your own good. We need to prove ourselves a nation and fight this challenge with unity and discipline,” added Mr Ghani.

Sources said that the provincial minister’s statement pushed the authorities for immediate measures. Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali had himself tested for the coronavirus and ordered the same exercise for other members of the cabinet.

“The minister, who got infected, is a key man of the provincial administration and has been quite instrumental in whole exercise of the provincial government for almost a month against the possible coronavirus outbreak,” said an official.

“The morale of all other people working tirelessly is high and there’s no panic- or scare-like situation. Only as a precautionary measure samples of some officials and ministers have been sent for the test. The government [functioning] is normal and effective.”

Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari lauded the courage of Mr Ghani and prayed for his early recovery.

“PPP Karachi President & Sindh minister @SaeedGhani1 tested +ve for #COVID19 & is working from home,” he tweeted. “Saeed’s been at forefront of our fight vs. pandemic. Please say a prayer for all public servants putting themselves at risk to keep all safe. Stay home everyone!”

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2020