KARACHI: The provincial government on Friday further curtailed the operation hours of grocery shops and stores by three hours from Saturday (today) to make the province-wide lockdown stricter and more effective as the local transmission of coronavirus cases became nearly 10 per cent of the total tested cases.
Taking this decision at a meeting here, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that he decided that grocery shops and stores would operate from 8am to 5pm from Saturday as the people were found hitting the streets unnecessarily till late evening.
“We had decided to close shops from 8pm to 8am but people have started taking its unnecessary benefit and keep roaming here and there, therefore, I have decided that shops, including groceries, etc, will operate from 8am to 5pm from Saturday,” he said, advising people to understand the gravity of the situation.
Murad orders IGP to make lockdown stricter to avoid local transmission of Covid-19
The chief minister said that the local transmission of coronavirus cases had become 10pc of the total tested cases. “This is a dangerous trend, therefore, we have to contain it further by observing necessary precautionary measures and effectively observing the lockdown,” he added.
The meeting was attended by Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Director General of Sindh Rangers Major General Omar Bukhari, Home Secretary Usman Chachar, Brig Sami of V Corps and Dr Abdul Bari of the Indus Hospital.
The chief minister said that there were 168 cases of coronavirus, excluding the pilgrims at Sukkur and Larkana, and 102 of them were of local transmission.
“This shows that the local transmission is still progressing, therefore, we all have to observe a complete lockdown, otherwise we will not be in a position to control it,” he said.
He directed Inspector General of Police, Sindh Mushtaq Mahar to implement the order.
‘A difficult decision’
Talking about the ban on offering congregational prayers in mosques, the chief minister said this was a difficult decision and was taken with a heavy heart.
“This decision has been taken after proper consultation with ulema of different schools of thought and other stakeholders,” he said and added that the decision was aimed at saving people from local transmission.
Mr Shah said that he offered Friday prayers at his home. “At home I kept following the Imam of our mosque who was leading the Juma prayers in the mosque on loudspeaker and we should all follow such observance,” he said.
Mr Shah directed the provincial police chief to further tighten the lockdown and not allow people moving here and there without any solid reason.
In the province (at the time of filing) there are 440 coronavirus cases, including 168 of Karachi and some other districts, 151 of pilgrims of Sukkur phase-I and 114 of Sukkur phase-II and seven of Larkana, while 40 results are pending.
Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2020