KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Thursday that he was self-isolating himself after testing positive for Covid-19 but vowed to address the upcoming opposition rally on November 30 in Multan via video link.

Meanwhile, the Sindh government allowed markets to stay open till 8pm, reversing an earlier decision that called for shops to down shutters by 6pm in view of the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

The PPP chairman tested positive just a day before the engagement of his sister, Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, to a Dubai-based businessman and four days before the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rally in Multan being organised on the 53rd foundation day of the party.

“I have tested positive for #COVID-19 & am self isolating with mild symptoms,” tweeted Mr Bhutto-Zardari. “I‘ll continue working from home & will be addressing PPP foundation day via video link. Wear a mask everyone, see you on the other side IA.”

On Tuesday, the PPP chairman decided to undergo coronavirus test after his key adviser Jameel Soomro tested positive for Covid-19.

A brief statement issued by the Bilawal House had said: “The advisor of Mr. Bhutto-Zardari, Jameel Soomro has been tested positive for Covid-19. The PPP chairman has decided to stay in self isolation till the results while waiting for reports of his coronavirus test.”

Markets allowed to stay open till 8pm

Mixed public reaction

People reacted differently over the announcement of the PPP chairman on Twitter as some extended him good wishes and prayed for his early recovery and some criticised him for “putting the public at risk” by insisting on holding large public gatherings despite having tested positive for the virus himself.

Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah described it as a ‘sacrifice’ from the PPP chairman by exposing himself to the dangers of Covid-19 in the struggle for rights and justice for the people.

The minister vowed that the Nov 29 rally in Multan was in continuation of that struggle and would only end with restoration of “true democracy and a sovereign parliamentary government”.

Taking to Twitter, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Senator Faisal Javed questioned the “cruelty” behind calling people out in streets while addressing them via video link.

“You are putting their lives in danger. Take care of others as well as yourself. These rallies have no pros, only cons,” he tweeted.

Markets to remain open till 8pm

The Sindh government on Thursday decided to extend closing time of markets, shopping malls and commercial centres from 6pm to 8pm while imposing smart lockdown in several more streets/areas in district Central to control the growing incidents of Covid-19 cases, said officials.

“This is to inform that markets in Sindh will remain open till 8pm,” said Adviser to the Chief Minister of Sindh on Law barrister Murtaza Wahab in his tweet.

“It is again expected from market associations, shop owners and citizens that due regard to SOPs shall be observed and everyone including shopkeepers and visitors shall wear a mask,” added the adviser.

Separately, Deputy Commissioner of district Central Dr M.B. Raja Dharejo on recommendations of the district health officer of Central imposed ‘broader smart lockdowns (BSLDs)’ in streets and houses for two weeks from Nov 26 till Dec 10.

These smart lockdowns have been imposed in streets and houses located in F.B Area Blocks 8, 1, 12, 13 and 7, according to a notification issued by the DC office.

19 patients die

As many as 19 patients of Covid-19 died overnight and 1,402 new cases emerged when 10,585 tests were conducted.

This was stated by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday in a statement issued from CM House.

The CM said that currently 17,585 patients were under treatment, of them 2,885 were in home isolation, 13 at isolation centres and 774 in different hospitals.

“The condition of 684 patients is stated to be critical, including 50 shifted to ventilators,” he added.

Murad Ali Shah said that out of 1,402 cases, 1,148 were detected in Karachi, including 422 in East, 362 in South, 156 in Central, 94 in West, 61 in Korangi and 53 in Malir.

He added that Hyderabad had 63 new cases, Dadu and Tando Allahyar 21 each, Sujawal 18, Shaheed Benazirabad 16, Jamshoro 13, Sanghar 11, Badin 10, Ghotki, Larkana, Naushahro Feroze and Sukkur three each, Thatta, Umerkot and Kashmore two each, and Khairpur and Matiari had one case each.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

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