KARACHI: The Sindh government on Thursday extended ‘mini smart lockdown’ to more city neighbourhoods as the number of coronavirus cases continued to increase and an advisory issued by the health department recommended restricted movement in the affected parts of the metropolis.
Two localities of district South were identified as ‘fresh hotspots’ of the pandemic and were placed under a ‘mini smart lockdown’ for a forthnight.
The deputy commissioner, South, issued a notification placing block ‘A’ of the Creek Vista Apartment in Phase VIII of DHA and sub-division of Saddar under the lockdown from October 1 to 15.
The notification asked the local authorities to seal these localities and arrange logistic support for the purpose. They were also asked to work in close coordination with the district health officer in Karachi South and law enforcement agencies, including police and Rangers.
“The Assistant Commissioner is further directed to make implementation plan and enforce the above order in letter and spirit and penalize the violators of SOPs guidelines under the directives of Home Department’s order,” read the notification.
The notification also carried details of the standard operating procedure (SOPs) to be enforced in the areas that advising anyone entering or leaving the locked down areas to wear a face mask. Movement of people residing in the locked down areas be strictly restricted, it added.
Four wedding halls sealed, gatherings and transport services in closed areas also banned
The notification further says that only grocery shops, convenience stores and pharmacies would be allowed to remain open in these areas during the timings specified in the home department’s order while all other businesses would remain strictly closed without any exception.
“All kinds of industrial units falling in the area shall remain closed. No home delivery/take away of any sort will be allowed from restaurants, fast food joints. Only one person of each household shall be allowed outside for buying food items and medicines by displaying original CNIC to the law enforcement agencies. Only one attendant, where extremely necessary, shall be allowed with a person in need of medical care,” added the advisory.
Earlier, the provincial government warned that the coronavirus hit new heights in Sindh on Thursday with 13 deaths reported overnight, lifting the toll to 2,512 and infecting 361 others. The number of infected people rose to 137,467.
The government has also put a ban on private and family get-together events at homes as well as pillion riding in these areas. Movement of public transport vehicles, including buses, taxis, rickshaws and ride hailing services, are also banned in these areas.
On Wednesday, the provincial government had imposed a ‘mini smart lockdown’ in two localities of Manghopir in district West, whose deputy commissioner issued a notification placing Saima Villas and Samama City under lockdown from October 1 to 15.
Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said in a statement issued on Thursday that 13 patients lost their lives while struggling against the coronavirus, constituting 1.8 per cent current death rate. He said that 11,689 samples were tested against which 361 positive cases were detected. This constituted three per cent current detection rate. He said that so far, 1,374,768 tests had been conducted which diagnosed 137,467 cases across the province. Of them, he added, 95 per cent or 130,510 patients had recovered and they included 158 overnight.
The CM said that currently 4,445 patients were under treatment. Of them 4,161 have been in home isolation, seven at isolation centres and 277 at different hospitals. He added that the condition of 192 patients was stated to be critical. Thirty-seven of them have been shifted to ventilators.
“Out of the 361 new cases, 249 have been detected in Karachi (85 in South, 66 in East, 37 in Central, 36 in Malir, 17 in Korangi and eight in West districts), the statement added.
It noted that Badin had 19 cases, Hyderabad 12, Dadu seven, Ghotki six, Jamshoro five, Mirpukhas three and Naushahro Feroze, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Larkana and Sukkur distrcts had two cases each while Matiari, Shaheed Benazirabad, Shikarpur and Thatta districts had one case case.
Over 60 restaurants, four wedding halls sealed
Following warning from the provincial administration, local authorities sealed as many as 61 restaurants and four marriage halls in different parts of the megalopolis over violation of the Covid-19 SOPs.
According to a report issued from the commissioner’s office, the officials inspected 177 restaurants and 50 marriage halls in several districts, including South, East, West, Central, Malir and Korangi.
As many as 29 restaurants, the highest number of eateries, were sealed in district Central while two marriage halls each in district Central and Korangi were sealed for violation of SOPs.
Besides, three marriage halls in district Central and 15 restaurants in district East were issued warnings.
‘No plan to shut down educational institutions’
Despite a sudden rise in the case, the Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani ruled out closure of schools, colleges and universities, saying that “the situation is under control so far”. However, he hinted at a review of the decision if the situation deteriorated.
Speaking to reports after attending an oath-taking ceremony for the newly-elected body of Shaheed Benazirabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries, in Nawabshah on Thursday, he said that there was no proposal under consideration for the closure of schools. The monitoring of SOPs’ implementation is being done.
“Some cabinet members have expressed their concern over health of children [at schools],” he said. “We have not observed anything harmful so far at the educational institutions. But let me make it very clear that in case of any adverse change in the situation, we will definitely review the decision. Sindh is the first province where lockdown is enforced immediately. The pandemic is not over yet. The people must follow SOPs and wear masks. In case people don’t take it serious, this may lead to strong measures to be taken by the government.”
Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2020