KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Thursday that the lockdown would not be lifted at once, but it would be eased off in phases.
In his video message released from the Chief Minister House, he said that when the lockdown would be lifted or eased, life would not be the same. “The government will issue new SOPs for every sector under which they will have to operate,” he added.
Mr Shah said that the people would have to lead a different lifestyle based on personal care and care of their family members and others.
He said all business centres, factories and shopping malls would have to adopt protective measures for them and their workers. “We are not living on islands, but we live on a land where people come from other cities, provinces and countries and vice versa. Therefore, social distancing from each other is the only tool to keep ourselves safe and secure,” he said.
‘My apprehensions came true when a family of seven members living in a katchi abadi got infected’
The CM said that despite his serious efforts and strict containment policy, the coronavirus finally penetrated katchi abadis because the residents failed to maintain social distancing as was advised by experts.
He said he was always afraid of the day when the virus would start spreading in the slum areas because the slum dwellers were living in small houses with large families.
“I am sorry, my apprehensions came true and a family of seven members living in a katchi abadi of district Central got infected,” he said.
Mr Shah said that the head of the family went outside and got himself infected somewhere and brought the virus back home. “Now all his seven family members, including one-year-old son and six-year-old daughter, have been diagnosed as coronavirus positive,” he deplored.
He urged the dwellers of shantytowns to get rations or cash when it was distributed in their areas but avoid crowding, otherwise “you will not only be infected but would carry the virus back to your home and get your family members infected”.
The chief minister said that during the previous 24 four hours (till Thursday morning) 92 new cases of coronavirus were detected and one more person died, adding that the death toll till April 9 had climbed to 21, which constituted 1.8 per cent of the total cases.
Disclosing his three-pronged strategy — isolation, testing and critical care — he said that 1,380 pilgrims returning from Iran in four batches were kept in isolation. Of them, 280 were found infected.
He said they were provided proper care in isolation in Sukkur and 242 patients recovered and returned to their respective homes. “Now only 38 pilgrims are left at Sukkur and after their recovery they will also be sent to their homes,” he added.
Mr Shah said the provincial government had conducted 11,623 tests till Thursday morning against which 1,128 had been diagnosed as positive, including 92 new cases.
He said that at present 436 patients were in home isolation, 59 in isolation centres and 263 in different district hospitals.
Explains two deaths
Mr Shah in his message also clarified a news item that appeared in different newspapers that three people had died from hunger.
He said the news item was incorrect and was not based on facts. He said that victim Sobhal Shar set himself ablaze at Jhatpat, Balochistan, on account of his domestic issues with his wife and in-laws.
“He was brought over to the Hira Hospital Sukkur and later shifted to Pir Abdul Qadir Shah Institute of Medical Science, Gambat, where he succumbed to his burn injuries,” he said.
Giving further details, the chief minister said Shahzaib Sahto was a son of a well-off schoolteacher, Ustad Shahan Sahto, who has properties in urban and rural areas of Gambat and a stable economic status. “His son set himself on fire on account of family issues,” he said.
The CM said that Riaz Metlo, 55, a resident of Shesham Colony, Luqman, Khairpur, had been sick for the past 15 days and could not survive. It was a natural death.
“It is re-emphasised that we are in the middle of an unprecedented crisis situation and at this juncture publishing baseless stories … should be avoided because they achieve nothing but spread further chaos and panic,” he said.
Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020