Murad hints at easing province-wide lockdown after 14th

Updated April 09, 2020

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Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in a meeting with a team of medical experts from China at the CM House on Wednesday. All participants in the meeting wear face masks, which is rare for such official meetings.—PPI
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in a meeting with a team of medical experts from China at the CM House on Wednesday. All participants in the meeting wear face masks, which is rare for such official meetings.—PPI

KARACHI: Hinting at easing out the ongoing three-week lockdown across the province, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday urged the people to observe social distancing strictly as advised by medical experts.

In his regular video message to the people of the country in general and Sindh in particular, he said that a few more days were left to ease the lockdown, “therefore the remaining days of the lockdown must be observed strictly”.

The lockdown is scheduled to be over after April 14 across the country.

Mr Shah said that two more patients lost their lives while fighting the coronavirus apart from detection of 50 more cases during the past 24 hours.

Sharing data of Covid-19 cases up to the morning of April 8, he said that the provincial government conducted 785 more tests, of them 50 samples were found to be positive.

Advises people to strictly follow lockdown restrictions in the remaining few days; asks centre to issue SOPs

1,036 confirmed cases in Sindh

“The number of tests conducted so far comes to 10,981. Total cases up to the morning of April 7 were 896 and after detection of 50 more cases the tally rises to 1,036,” he said, adding “the death toll has reached 20.”

Of the 1,036 confirmed patients, 382 were in home isolation, 97 admitted to isolation centres and 257 patients were under treatment at different hospitals of the province, he said, adding that 637 of the total cases were locally transmitted.

Discussing seriousness of the coronavirus threat in Pakistan, the CM said that there was one case on Feb 26 and after 30 days the tally reached 1,000 cases and the number of cases rose to 2,000 in mere seven days, then after six days ie April 6, the number of cases reached 3,000 and on April 7, or just after one day, “we have 4,000 cases in the country”.

Therefore, the strategy must be based on the ground reality, he said, urging the people to observe social distancing as had been advised by the experts.

He added that a few more days were left to ease the lockdown. “Therefore, the remaining days of the lockdown must be observed strictly,” he said.

In his message on the importance of Shab-i-Barat, the chief minister said that it was the night of prayers and forgiveness. “We, therefore, must offer prayers at our homes and even offer dua for the departed souls of our dear and near ones at homes.”

He also urged ulema to explain importance of Shab-i-Barat on TV channels so that everyone at home could listen and understand.

Chinese experts call for social distancing

A nine-member delegation of Chinese experts, led by Ma Minghui, called on the chief minister and shared their experience to contain and what they said eliminate the coronavirus.

The Chinese experts urged the chief minister to ensure social distancing among the people, otherwise spread of infection could not be controlled. They said that they had observed a strict lockdown, that’s was why everything was brought under control.

The chief minister said that he had also closed government offices, schools and all business centres and even factories and public transport. “This is why we have contained it but still we have to take more measures to save our people,” he said.

Mr Shah said that due to shortage of testing kits and equipment his government could not conduct test of all people. “We are testing those who have travel history and family members of the positive cases,” he said.

The visiting delegation assured the chief minister that they would provide expertise and other equipment to the provincial government.

They also said that distribution of food (ration) should also be made in isolation. Crowds in any kind would destroy the efforts of containing the virus, they said.

Centre asked to issue safety guidelines

The CM also participated through a video link in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Mr Shah suggested that the people coming from other countries through international flights should be kept in quarantine at any nearby hotel.

He said that the provincial government would extend all assistance to the federal government, though the quarantine was primarily the responsibility of the Centre.

The CM also suggested the federal government to issue standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the post-lockdown period.

He said that a new discipline of life would have to be evolved. Otherwise, things would go out of control, he warned.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2020