Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister Murtaza Wahab said on Monday that the provincial government did not like placing restrictions and they were imposed only when the situation went "out of control" and Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) were violated.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi, Wahab said the positivity rate in Karachi and Hyderabad had increased, blaming it on SOPs violations and a lack of care. He said the provincial taskforce had supported the National Command and Operation Centre's decision to decrease restrictions from May 17 (today), however, if there was no improvement or reduction in the Covid-19 case numbers then "we will have to take strict decisions."
Addressing citizens, businessmen and sections opposing restrictions, Wahab said: "I would like to inform you that the government does not like placing restrictions. We place restrictions when the situation goes out of control, when you violate SOPs, don't wear masks and hold indoor gatherings on a large scale.
"So if the nation, traders and citizens want that we take the situation towards normalcy, then we will have to do three things," he said, adding that people would have to wear masks, follow SOPs and vaccinate themselves.
He said if these three things were worked upon then "we can easily move towards opening up or else the government will have to take strict and difficult decisions".
"Don't push us towards difficult decisions and support the government and follow the Covid-19 SOPs so we can play our role in controlling the genie of Covid-19."
He also addressed the issue of oxygen production capacity and said the Sindh government had called a session of the provincial taskforce when reports of deaths due to lack of oxygen in India had emerged. It was decided, he said, to work on making oxygen supply a reality.
"How you can augment and further supplement your oxygen supply" was the focus, said Wahab, adding that instructions were given to administration and government officers by the chief minister to focus on alternate arrangements and other sources through which oxygen could be generated and produced for medical purposes.
"I will be happy to tell you that district Jamshoro worked very proactively on this," he said, adding that power plants were engaged to help the government in oxygen production. Wahab announced that the Jamshoro Power Company Ltd had now provided an alternate source of oxygen through modifying and using its electrolysis process.
Wahab said the company would produce 268,000 litres of oxygen daily and "experts have told us that these 268,000 litres of oxygen are sufficient to fulfil the oxygen requirements of medical facilities in Hyderabad and Jamshoro."
He said the oxygen had been declared fit for medical use by the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research on May 14 and "we have set a benchmark and established an example which can be replicated in all of Pakistan."
"Pakistan will be the first country of the subcontinent which will produce and use oxygen for medical purposes using this technology of electrolysis," the adviser added.
He said the chief minister had met with the administration and assured officials of his "complete support" to replicate this example. According to Wahab, other power plants had also been identified where similar technology could be used for oxygen production.
The adviser also touched on the topic of restrictions on the Sinopharm vaccine's availability and called it an "important question" since a lot of news was circulating on the issue.
He clarified that with the passage of time other Covid-19 vaccines had arrived in Pakistan and that is why the Sindh government had taken the decision to reserve Sinopharm's supply for those who needed their second doses since other vaccines couldn't be administered to them for their second dose.
Wahab added that the other vaccines had been endorsed globally and by Pakistani doctors, and urged people to get themselves vaccinated and ignore misinformation.