HYDERABAD: The civil administration is considering requesting provincial government to impose complete three-day lockdown in Hyderabad during Eid holidays in view of surge in coronavirus cases and reports of rise in UK variant’s infection among patients as seven more died in Liaquat University Hospital (LUH) during last 24 hours.

The proposal was discussed at a meeting here on Wednesday which was chaired by Sindh Assembly member Sharjeel Inam Memon, who has been Sindh government’s coronavirus focal person for the city since the pandemic struck the country.

The meeting was attended by Hyderabad commissioner Abbas Baloch, deputy commissioner Fuad Soomro, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) vice chancellor Prof Dr Bikha Ram, district health officer (DHO) Dr Lala Jaffar, SSP Abdul Salam Sheikh and Diagnostic and Research Laboratory (DRL) head Prof Dr Ikram Ujjan.

“The proposal for complete lockdown has been in active consideration and we will be sending such request to Sindh chief minister after taking certain things into consideration,” MPA Memon told Dawn after the meeting.

Deputy commissioner Fuad Soomro said the proposal would be shared with the chief minister in Thursday’s meeting and explained that random sampling was to be started aggressively now in markets to know hotspots within Hyderabad city where ratio of positivity consistently remained 13 to 14pc.

The DC has so far imposed smart lockdown in over three dozen localities for different periods of time to curb the rate of infection in Hyderabad which has once again become a hotspot for coronavirus in the country.

Hyderabad is witnessing the spike in positive cases of coronavirus for the past fortnight. Presence of UK variant in the city was confirmed during sample analysis at DRL a few days back. Seven deaths had been reported in Liaquat University Hospital (LUH) during last 24 hours, according to LUH record.

According to a health expert, “the UK variant directly undermines patient’s lungs. It is indeed serious because in normal coronavirus cases patients usually have mild complications or remain asymptomatic but in cases of UK variant their lungs are affected seriously to make patient’s condition critical”.

The MPA said: “We need to change strategy to trace out the positive cases that are asymptomatic yet moving around without being identified after test”.

For this purpose, he said, the administration would start collecting samples of shopkeepers and their workers at shops in main markets in Latifabad, City and Qasimabad and trace their contacts as well.

DHO Dr Lala Jaffar said that random sampling of shopkeepers and their staff would be started in Mehran Market in Qasimabad, Latifabad unit-8 market and Resham Bazaar in City on Thursday. “We are requesting SSP Hyderabad to provide police assistance so that samples could be collected,” he said.

MPA Memon said that administration official would be meeting ulema in the city to make sure that strict compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for coronavirus was made at mosques. “We will allow Eid prayers in the mosques where compliance can be ensured to curb the virus’ spread,” he said.

He discussed arrival of labourers from Punjab to work in large orchards in and around Hyderabad and said that the labourers would have to volunteer for tests first to get permission for working in the farms. Growers were to be consulted and sensitized in this regard, he said.

The meeting decided to request the Sindh government to establish infectious diseases hospital in Hyderabad on the pattern of Karachi and noted that the administration would ensure Sabzi Mandi was shifted in two phases to its new location considering the fact that 30,000 people visited the vegetable market on daily basis and made it a potential reservoir for the coronavirus.

The MPA called for devising strategy for harvesting of mangoes so that spread of infection could be controlled and asked Hyderabad commissioner Abbas Baloch to activate hospitals in other districts of the division to lessen pressure on LUH.

He said that random testing should be done in the city to know the areas most affected by the coronavirus. More steps were to be taken to control spread of the infection and administrative and punitive actions should be taken for the implementation of SOPs, he said.

He said that SOPs should be implemented during Eid prayers for which ulema should be consulted before Eidul Fitr.

Commissioner Abbas Baloch told the meeting that district administration was struggling to ensure implementation of SOPs round the clock. The administration was continuously monitoring the situation, he said.

The DC informed the meeting that smart lockdown had been imposed in the areas most affected by the virus and administrative action was being taken on a regular basis.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2021

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