Keeping in view the worsening COVID-19 situation in the province, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed the authorities to strictly implement the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the province, including at businesses, social gatherings, religious congregations and educational institutions, and take strict action against the violators.
“COVID-19 positivity rate in Karachi during last five days is touching 7.5 per cent while in Hyderabad it is above 9 per cent. We can’t contain the virus until our people make the SOPs part of their lives, otherwise I would have no option but to impose restrictions,” Murad said while presiding over a meeting of the task force on coronavirus at the CM House on Friday.
Three more people died due to COVID-19 in the province between Thursday and Friday, raising the death toll to 2,669 while 579 more people tested positive for the infectious disease, the CM was informed at the meeting. Around 380 new cases of the coronavirus infection were from Karachi.
The meeting was attended by Sindh Information Minister Nasir Shah, Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Maher, School Education Secretary Ahmed Bux Narejo, Health Secretary Kazim Jatoi, Colleges Secretary Bakar Naqvi, representatives of Corps-5 and Pakistan Rangers, and others.
The CM said that the detection rate was on the rise in the province and the situation of the pandemic was also worsening at the international level. He added that most of the countries had started imposing lockdown restrictions again.
Murad was told that during last 24 hours, 579 new cases had emerged when 10,330 tests were conducted and it constituted a 5.6 per cent detection rate. He remarked that the 5.6 per cent detection rate was high and directed the health department to enhance its testing capacity to 15,000 tests per day.
It was pointed out that since the start of the pandemic, 1,703,818 samples had been tested, against which 148,922 cases of Covid-19 were diagnosed, 95 per cent or 140,233 of which had recovered, including 367 who were cured during last 24 hours.
The CM said the recovery rate in the province was encouraging but the new spike in the cases was worrisome and needed immediate drastic measures to contain the virus. He directed Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani to issue directives to the deputy commissioners to ensure a proper implementation of the SOPs such as wearing masks, observing social distancing and avoiding handshake.
Murad directed the deputy commissioners to start checking at all the educational and religious institutions, business centres, shopping malls, factories, supermarkets, restaurants and other place to ensure the implementation of the SOPs. “In case of violation of SOPs, strict action must be taken including sealing of the setup,” he said.
He was informed that currently 6,022 patients of the novel coronavirus were under treatment, of whom 5,729 were in home isolation, four at the isolation centres and 289 at different hospitals, of whom the condition of 222 was stated to be critical and 25 of them had been shifted onto ventilators.
It was pointed out that till November 6, 39 patients of COVID-19 had lost their lives in the current month. The CM said this was alarming and called for strict measures to save lives.
He directed the health secretary to visit all the government hospitals to ensure the availability of oxygen, medicines and other facilities for the COVID-19 patients and meet any shortage of such items immediately.
The meeting considered different options to implement the SOPs, including reduction in business hours in all the institutions or imposition of selected lockdown. “I want to take strict measures in consultation with the federal government so that there should be uniformity in our national decisions,” he said.
Of the 579 new cases, 380 were detected in Karachi, including 147 in District East, 98 in District South, 53 in District Central, 46 in District Korangi, 19 in District Malir and 17 in District West.