'10pc of Covid-19 cases in Sindh are locally transmitted': CM Shah sounds alarm

Updated March 27, 2020

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People stand in designated areas marked on the ground to maintain social distancing as they receive free food from volunteers of Chhipa Welfare Association during a government-imposed lockdown as a preventive measure against the coronavirus in Karachi on March 27, 2020. — AFP
People stand in designated areas marked on the ground to maintain social distancing as they receive free food from volunteers of Chhipa Welfare Association during a government-imposed lockdown as a preventive measure against the coronavirus in Karachi on March 27, 2020. — AFP

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Friday noted with alarm that 10 per cent of the total number of Covid-19 cases in the province were locally transmitted, terming it a "dangerous trend".

While chairing a meeting at the CM House in Karachi, Shah insisted that locally transmitted cases needed to be contained by taking further precautionary measures. He pointed out that excluding the ones reported amongst pilgrims in Larkana and Sukkur, there were 168 cases in the province, of which 102 were locally transmitted.

"This shows that local transmission is still progressing, therefore, we all have to observe complete lockdown, or we will not be in a position to control it,” he said.

The chief minister said that people needed to "understand the gravity of the ongoing situation".

“Therefore, I have decided to curtail the operation hours of grocery shops and stores by three hours from Saturday," he announced, saying that all grocery stores will be closed by 5pm every evening. Previously, the government had allowed grocery shops to remain open until 8pm.

Chief Minister Shah told Inspector General of Police Sindh Mushtaq Mahar to ensure that the orders were complied with.

Referring to restrictions on prayer congregations in the province, the chief minister said that it was a difficult decision to make but it was "aimed at saving people from local transmission".

The Sindh government had announced yesterday that congregations comprising more than five people will not be allowed.

Mixed reaction to restrictions on prayer congregations

A mixed reaction was seen to the provincial government’s restrictions on Friday prayer congregations in the metropolis and other parts of Sindh, according to witnesses and officials.

Law enforcers tried to prevent crowding at mosques but avoided taking any strict action ostensibly due to the sensitivity of the matter.

A few mosques in the Kharadar and Burns Road areas of Karachi refused to follow the restrictions.

Meanwhile, Additional Inspector General of Police Karachi Ghulam Nabi Memon said that barring some mosques, the majority of mosques' administrations in the provincial capital responded positively to the restrictions on Friday congregations.

He added that three persons were arrested in Karachi over violation of restrictions on the Juma prayer.

Police sources said that a total of 169 people were arrested across the province on Friday over violation of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and hoarding of masks, sanitisers and gloves etc.

About 440 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in Sindh. Most of the cases have been detected in people with recent travel history, however, the number of locally transmitted cases is increasing. So far, 14 people have been cured.