Sindh mulls restrictions after sharp rise in cases

Published July 20, 2021
A paramedic wearing protective gear takes a nose-swab sample to be tested for the coronavirus in Karachi. — Reuters/File
A paramedic wearing protective gear takes a nose-swab sample to be tested for the coronavirus in Karachi. — Reuters/File

KARACHI/ ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government has observed that the Covid-19 situation in Karachi is turning ‘dangerously serious’, warning the masses that disregard of health guidelines before and during Eidul Azha would leave the authorities with no other option but to impose strict restrictions.

The warning came on Monday when coronavirus positivity rate in Sindh’s capital increased to 23.12 per cent, nearly five times higher than the national positivity rate of 4.95pc.

Also, the representative body of medical fraternity, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), has cautioned that the Delta variant may reach most parts of the country on Eid as many residents travel from populated cities to their native towns to spend holidays with their relatives.

As a surge in number of Covid-19 cases has been recorded in recent weeks, the official figures show that more than 2,000 new cases a day have been reported from across the country on a fifth consecutive day.

Anticipating patients’ load on hospitals, two companies were permitted to manufacture ventilators on Monday when the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) issued licences to them.

Spokesman for the Sindh government and adviser to chief minister Barrister Murtaza Wahab said people were falling ill in large numbers, turning towards hospitals and getting hospitalized. “The situation is again developing to a dangerous extent,” he noted.

“The city’s [Karachi] positivity rate has increased to 23.12 per cent in the last 24 hours when it was 8.5-9pc 10 days ago,” he said while addressing a press conference. “Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) aren’t followed by people after the Sindh government relaxed restrictions which led to the positivity increase. Now Eidul Azha is coming [...] and it’s a very dangerous, alarming and concerning situation [in Karachi].”

He appealed to citizens to follow the SOPs for “your own benefit” and get vaccinated. “The government doesn’t want that there is strictness and we impose restrictions again, because when we do then sometimes the PTI says something and sometimes the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) does [but] no one thinks about doctors, health workers and hospitals,” he regretted.

He asked other political parties to create awareness against coronavirus pandemic instead of creating divide among people. He asked people to restrict their movement for their own health and safety.

The adviser urged people to get inoculated saying that vaccines were available in “ample numbers”. Without vaccinations, he said, the government would be forced to take “strict decisions”.

“I want to tell citizens that the situation today is dangerous and concerning and if in the next few days we don’t adhere to the SOPs then these numbers (positivity rate) can become more dangerous.

“If they become more dangerous and there is no longer space left in hospitals then the citizens will face the loss. We all need to understand the dangers of Covid-19 irrespective of politics on the basis of humanity, support our government, follow SOPs, adopt social distancing [and] wear masks,” he stressed.

The adviser also cautioned those sowing seeds of discord and misinforming people about Covid-19, saying the masses should be informed about its reality. “Have the realisation and convince the people that vaccination is the way forward to protect themselves against it,” he added.

He criticised the federal government’s decision to open travel for tourism to the northern areas. He said it was the reason for the surge in coronavirus cases in Gilgit-Baltistan and other places.

“I think you should ask the federal government, you can’t place responsibility for this on the Sindh government. The federal government needs to review its policies because if the situation continues like this then may God protect us from this disease, [because] I don’t see any such intention of the [Centre].

Delta variant in Lahore

PMA Secretary General Dr Qaiser Sajjad also expressed serious concern over the rapid spread of coronavirus, particularly the Delta variant.

“PMA has a number of times urged the masses to strictly adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) and now Delta is also spreading in Lahore. We fear that while people will go to their native areas, from Karachi, virus will spread across the country,” he said.

He urged the masses to wear facemasks while going to cattle market, shopping and masques for Eid prayer. He reminded the people that Delta variant was lethal as it had killed tens of thousands of people in India before causing devastation in Indonesia.

“Our health system is very weak. It cannot sustain pressure of such variant because the flow of critical cases, due to Delta variant, increases in hospitals. I appeal to the masses to follow the SOPs and stay at home during Eid,” he said.

He also urged the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), federal and provincial governments to ensure implementation of the SOPs besides administering Covid vaccines to people.

So far, 22.74 million doses of vaccine have been administered to people across the country.

According to the NCOC data, the virus claimed 30 more lives and infected 2,452 more people, with the national positivity rate of 4.95pc, in the past one day. The number of active cases surged to 48,850. Of the Covid patients, 2,830 more had to be hosptialised.

Meanwhile, Drap issued the licences to two entities for the manufacturing of ventilators.

M/s National Engineering and Scientific Commission of Pakistan has been allowed to manufacture ventilators namely PakVent-1, which has service life of around 10 years. Moreover, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has also been allowed to manufacture “first indigenous intensive care unit (ICU) ventilator”, i-Live.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2021

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