KARACHI: Finally taking notice of the city’s alarming Covid-19 situation that experts believe might lead to a health crisis, the Sindh government on Saturday decided to go tough on the implementation of coronavirus-related preventive measures.

According to health department officials, the Covid-19 infection rate has risen to 35.3 per cent in Karachi, 5.12pc in Hyderabad and 2.4pc in the rest of the province.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah chaired the meeting of the provincial Task Force on Coronavirus and reviewed the public health situation. He decided to continue operation of educational, social and business activities but under strict standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The meeting decided to make wearing of masks mandatory at both public places and private offices and imposing fines on government officials who wouldn’t follow the order. The fine would be equal to their one-day salary.

Karachi’s contribution to country’s new infections has dropped to 56pc from 80pc in a day

The meeting’s participants also decided that all public and private hospitals would be surveyed in order to determine their current capacities and to ascertain what more was needed.

The chief minister directed the administration to ensure that vaccination certificates were checked and unvaccinated individuals were not allowed entry in hotels, markets and marriage halls.

Additionally, it was instructed that food at wedding events would be served in boxes. It was also decided to further speed up the pace of vaccination efforts across the province.

The meeting participants also decided that restaurants would be monitored and action be taken against those that did not comply with Covid SOPs.

Another session of the task force would be held after a few days, with the chief minister adding that further decisions would be taken upon a review of the situation then.

Earlier, health department officials informed the participants that there was no pressure on hospitals. The Covid-19 patients were recovering fast and the death rate was very low at 1.6pc.

“The increase in Covid cases is the result of not taking precautionary measures. If the people cooperate, then this ongoing Covid wave will also be brought under control,” the chief minister said.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Syed Nasir Shah, Syed Sardar Shah, Parliamentary Secretary on Health Qasim Soomro, Home Secretary Qazi Shahid Parvez, Commissioner Iqbal Memon, Health Secretary Zulfiqar Shah, representatives of Corps -5, Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, WHO, Dr Bari and others.

The commissioners of Larkana, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Shaheed Benazirabad attended the meeting through video link.

2,404 new cases in Karachi

The provincial Covid-19 data released on Saturday showed that reduced testing was carried out in Sindh over the last 24 hours due to which Karachi’s contribution to the overall new infections in the country dropped from 80pc to 56pc in a day.

A comparative analysis of the federal and provincial figures released on Jan 15 showed that Karachi contributed 2,404 cases out of the 4,286 new cases reported in the country. A total of 11,783 tests were carried out in Sindh that reported 2,622 cases.

A day earlier, the provincial authorities tested 15,719 samples out of which 3,089 were positive. Karachi’s number stood at 2,816.

A total of 997 cases were reported in district East, 653 South, 424 Central, 171 Malir, 101 West and 58 cases were reported from distict Korangi 58.

Hyderabad has 88, Thatta 26, Dadu 21, Shaheed Benazirabad 14, Sujawal 13, Badin eight, Jamshoro seven, Larkana and Tando Muhammad Khan six each, Matiari, Mirpurkhas and Umerkot four each, Ghotki, Sanghar and Sukkur two each, Kashmore and Naushahro Feroze one each.

Currently, 18,585 patients are under treatment, of them 18,308 are in home isolation, 25 at isolation centres and 252 at different hospitals. The condition of 229 patients is stated to be critical while a patient died.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2022

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