KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday met different associations of small traders and discussed ways and means to allow them to operate in the city against the backdrop of a lockdown that has entered its fourth week.
The traders assured the chief minister that they would follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) if they were allowed to run their businesses.
They suggested that they should be allowed and supported the start of home delivery.
The chief minister told the traders’ representatives that he was very keen to strengthen online business activities. “This is the way to observe social distancing,” he said.
The traders also agreed to open their shops on a rotation basis. For example, they said, if a tailor’s shop was allowed to open on a particular day then on the same day all related shops such as clothes, thread, etc, be allowed to open.
Traders assure Murad of following SOPs; PMA asked to work out plan to launch telemedicine clinics
Similarly, when the shops of air-conditioners were open on the same day all related shops such as electricians, electrical appliances’ shops be allowed to operate.
The chief minister constituted a committee under Labour Minister Saeed Ghani, Energy Minister Imtiaz Sheikh, Excise and Taxation Minister Mukesh Chawla and Local Government Minister Nasir Shah to prepare SOPs with leaders of small traders for opening of small business activities within 24 hours.
He asked the committee to submit its proposals to him for his approval as well as for sharing with the federal government for further action.
On the request of the traders’ association, the chief minister announced certain exemptions to them relating to the Sindh Revenue Board and provincial excise and taxation recoveries.
The chief minister said that the prices of petroleum had come down considerably. Therefore, there was enough space to give loans to small traders to cope with the present situation.
The traders’ community appreciated the chief minister for his prompt action against coronavirus and his support for the business sector.
Extensive Covid-19 testing ordered
The CM ordered extensive Covid-19 testing in densely populated areas of Karachi, saying the coronavirus was further spreading in several localities across the city.
“This is something serious and needs to be stopped by conducting extensive tests and ensuring isolation,” he said.
The chief minister said that the coronavirus had started further spreading in thickly populated areas such as Lyari, Lea Market, Kharadar, Bihar Colony and different other localities in districts East, Malir, Korangi and West.
Sharing the Covid-19 data in his video message, he said that 138 new cases had been detected by conducting 1,666 tests. “The number of tests conducted so far comes to 22,938 while the tally of positive cases has risen to 2,355,” he added.
He said that on Friday new cases were detected in districts South, East, Korangi, Malir, West and Central and on Saturday more cases emerged from Bihar Colony. “The cases which appeared in the localities of all the six districts on Friday further spread on Saturday, this is worrisome,” he said and added he had ordered extensive tests of the people of the areas.
The CM said that one more person died, taking the death toll to 48, which was two per cent of the total patients. “Eleven patients recovered during the last 24 hours and the number of cured patients so far has come to 592, which is 26 per cent of the total patients,” he added.
He said that there were in all 1,715 patients, of whom 951 were in home isolation, 475 at isolation centres and 289 in different hospitals.
He once again urged people to observe social distancing and try to remain at home, otherwise it would be quite difficult to contain and stop further spread.
Asks PMA to make SOPs for clinics
The chief minister urged the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) to work out SOPs for clinics and suggest ways and means to launch telemedicine clinics so that patients of other diseases could be provided medical treatment.
He was talking to a PMA delegation comprising Dr Qaiser Sajjad, Dr Qazi Wasiq, Dr Sharif Hashmi and Dr Ghafoor Shoro here at CM House.
The delegation suggested the chief minister to totally separate coronavirus patients from regular hospitals, including tertiary care centres so that regular patients could be attended there.
The PMA also observed that the lockdown should have been imposed earlier and strictly, but this could not happen, therefore local spread of coronavirus took place.
The chief minister said that he wanted to impose a lockdown all over Pakistan from March 15 with suspension of all travel and other facilities. “Since I failed to bring federal and other provincial governments [around to] my views and apprehensions, therefore, imposition of lockdown was delayed,” he added.
Mr Shah said that he was establishing isolation centres and field hospitals all over the province.
Mr Shah pointed out that there were four categories of coronavirus patients — those who came by air, pilgrims from Iran, people of Tableeghi Jamaat and local transmission.
“We succeeded in isolating pilgrims at Sukkur and people of Tableeghi Jamaat in different districts, therefore virus couldn’t spread from them,” he said, adding: “Yes, it spread from those who came by air and went unchecked and now we are facing spread of virus in slums.”
Mr Shah urged the PMA to talk to their counterparts in other provinces and share Sindh’s experience with them.
Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2020