A serpentine line forms outside Cantt Station on Tuesday as people rushed to grab a spot on trains before the railways’ shutdown took effect.—Shakil Adil/White Star
A serpentine line forms outside Cantt Station on Tuesday as people rushed to grab a spot on trains before the railways’ shutdown took effect.—Shakil Adil/White Star

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday ordered complete closure of all shops from 8pm to 8am to make the lockdown stricter.

“People are still moving here and there without any restrictions — this was not the objective of imposing the lockdown,” he said while chairing the 27th meeting of the task force on coronavirus.

He directed the inspector general of police to take strict measures and make the lockdown effective disallowing people to roam around the city.

The chief minister decided that all shops, including groceries, would remain completely closed from 8pm to 8am. However, pharmacies, medical stores and hospitals will operate as usual.

He directed the chief secretary and Karachi commissioner to close down all big industries and direct banks to open their necessary branches only. Doctors would be exempted from the lockdown, he said.

Forms a body to either provide ration or cash assistance to wage earners; mapping of coronavirus cases begins

Body formed to provide ration to needy people

Chairing another meeting of different welfare organisations, the CM constituted a four-member body to evolve a mechanism for providing ration to needy people during the 15-day lockdown across the province.

He decided to provide financial assistance or ration to wage earners and other deserving people during the ongoing lockdown.

The four-member committee is headed by Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh and comprises Special Assistants to CM Waqar Mehdi, Rashid Rabbani and CM’s Coordinator on Social Sector Haris Gazdar.

The meeting was held to work out a joint plan to support the wage earners and other deserving persons who lost their bread-earning resources during the lockdown.

The meeting was attended by Faisal Edhi of the Edhi Trust, Ramzan Chippa, Shahzad Roy, Shakil Dehlvi of Alamgir Trust, Zafar Abbas of JDC Foundation, Yousif Lakhani of Saylani Welfare, Qazi Sadaruddin of Al-Khidmat Foundation, Hanif Motlani of Memon Federation and others.

The chief minister was assisted by provincial ministers Imtiaz Shaikh, Nasir Shah, Saeed Ghani (through video link), Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IGP Mushtaq Mahar, Home Secretary Usman Chachar and Salman Shah of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority.

The CM said that he was worried about the wage earners and for those who earned their bread and butter by setting up makeshift stalls of burger, fries, and chaat.

“I want to support them for which a mechanism needs to be evolved,” he said.

Most representatives of charities said that people should be provided ration for 15 days. Some of the participants were of the view that the distribution of ration was quite a difficult job and again people gather around the vehicles carrying the ration.

Some of the participants advised the chief minister to distribute cash among the deserving people so that they could purchase their groceries etc as per their requirement.

The meeting was informed that the zakat department had already a mechanism to distribute the Guzara Allowance (subsistence allowance) among 200,000 deserving persons.

The committee in consultation with welfare organisations would take a final decision on how to assist the affected people whether with ration, with cash or both.

The government had already formed an application on which people in need of ration could send messages. If the application is approved then a four-digit helpline number would be advertised for the information of the people to send their messages.

The chief minister directed the committee chairman to finalise his recommendation within next two days so that public could be supported in the shortest time.

Corona cases mapping

At the meeting of the task force on coronavirus, CM Shah was told that the health department had started corona-case mapping.

The map shows that 41 cases are in Saddar Town, 15 in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, 10 in Nazimabad, nine each in Gulberg and Jamshed Town, seven in Liaquatabad, four in Malir, three each in Gadap and North Karachi and one in Orangi.

In this way out of 143 coronavirus cases in Karachi — of which 91 are of local transmission — the mapping of 122 cases had been made.

The chief minister directed the health department to share the mapping data with deputy commissioners so that they could take necessary measures to contain it within limited areas.

The chief minister in his last meeting had directed the health department to improve sampling arrangements at home.

The health department told him that 18 mobile clinic vehicles of the Indus Hospital were made available to collect the samples.

The chief minister was told that Wuhan Institute of Virology in China had manufactured a machine for testing samples of Covid-19. The machine accepts the swabs of the throat while prevailing system accepts swabs of nose.

He directed his principle secretary to sit with medical experts and decide whether the machine was fit for Pakistan or not. “If the decision is taken in favour of procurement of the machine then place order for 100 machines,” he said, adding that he would request the federal government to fly a special plane to China to transport the machines for Sindh.

The CM also released Rs341 million to divisional administrations for distribution among the district administrations.

The amount would be spent on administrative work and other expenditures being incurred on the care of pilgrims coming from different areas.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2020



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