KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday said his government would intervene to operationalise the oxygen plant at the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) at a cost of Rs1 billion in view of the increased requirement amid spread of coronavirus pandemic.
“We are passing through a very serious situation; therefore, we have to be prepared to face any emergency,” he said while speaking to a team of leading doctors who met him at CM House.
At the outset of the meeting, the CM said the new wave of coronavirus had badly affected major cities of the country. “We are also facing its severity and trying to take measures whatever seem to be feasible to control the situation,” he said and added that the purpose of the meeting with the leading doctors was to review the situation and firm up the recommendations for containing the virus.
Appreciating efforts by the CM right since the first Covid-19 wave hit the province, the doctors said that establishment of Infectious Disease Hospital in Karachi, provision of ventilators to every district and recruitment of doctors and paramedical staff were commendable.
They urged the CM to make necessary arrangements for oxygen production. “When timely oxygen is given to a patient, his chances of going to a ventilator are reduced,” Dr Qaiser Sajjad said, adding that the provincial government should take necessary measures to operationalise the PSM oxygen plant.
The chief minister said that a team of the federal government had visited the plant and reported that it could not be revived. “However, we held a meeting with the PSM people along with Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and were told that it could be revived within three months at a cost of Rs1 billion,” he said.
Mr Shah said he would send a team of experts to the plant and if they found it worth-reviving, the provincial government would spend Rs1 billion on it. “We need oxygen for which we would make all out efforts,” he said.
The doctors also suggested to the provincial government to strictly enforce the standard operating procedures (SOPs) prescribed for controlling spread of the pandemic.
Mr Shah said: “At present the situation in Sindh is not as bad it is in other provinces, but Hyderabad as well as Karachi’s East and South districts have been affected badly”.
He said he had directed the administration and police to work in close coordination and ensure proper implementation of SOPs.
The CM said the Karachi administration the other day issued warnings to 93 people over avoiding to wear face masks, fined 28 shopkeepers for keeping their outlets open beyond the closing time and sealed off 510 shops and markets.
He said that 13 people were arrested and 271 others were issued warning.
“We are taking drastic measures, but the doctors, ulema and other influential figures must play a role in educating people on Covid-19,” he said.
The doctors suggested to the CM that elderly people be vaccinated at their doorsteps.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021