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Sindh not to relax SOPs after exponential rise in Covid cases

Considering the exponential increase in the number of Covid-19 cases observed across Sindh since Eidul Fitr, the provincial government on Thursday decided against relaxing the standard operating procedures (SOPs), and resolved to review the situation on Saturday (tomorrow) to see if more restrictions will be needed.

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah chaired a meeting of the provincial task force on Covid-19 that was told that on April 19, during the first week of Ramazan, Sindh had reported 737 positive cases, which was 5.2 per cent of those tested.

In mid-Ramazan 1,155 fresh cases were reported, which was eight per cent of those tested. On May 13, Eid Day, 1,232 cases were reported, while six days after Eid 2,076 new cases were reported, which was 10.2 per cent of those tested.

The CM said that on May 19 a record 20,421 tests were conducted and they resulted in 2,076 positive cases, which was 10.2 per cent of those tested. “In Karachi alone 9,606 tests were conducted, against which 1,356 cases, or 14.12 per cent, returned positive.”

The district-wise data of positive cases during the past week, from May 13 to 19, shows that Karachi’s District East has reported 28 per cent infections and 16 deaths, District South 17 per cent infections and six deaths, District Central 14 per cent infections and eight deaths, District West 11 infections, and District Korangi 10 per cent infections and one death.

Hyderabad has reported 10 per cent infections and 21 deaths, and Sukkur 14 per cent infections and one death. Based on the data, during the past week 7,837 coronavirus cases have been reported and 67 patients have lost their lives.

The meeting decided to continue the non-pharmaceutical interventions in Sindh. The task force will meet again tomorrow to review the situation and, if needed, order more

restrictions.

The meeting was also attended by ministers Dr Azra Pechuho, Saeed Ghani and Nasir Shah, CM’s adviser Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Sindh police chief Mushtaq Mahar, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Usman Chachar, CM’s Principal Secretary Sajid Abro, Karachi Commissioner Navid Shaikh, Karachi police chief Imran Minhas, Finance Secretary Hassan Naqvi, School Education Secretary Ahmed Narejo, Special Secretary Health Dr Abdul Bari, Dr Faisal Mehmood, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) General Secretary Dr Qaiser Sajjad, and representatives of the V Corps, Rangers and WHO.

‘Hasty decision’

The PMA has expressed concerns over the government’s decision to relax Covid-related restrictions imposed on commercial activities, schools, offices and other workplaces. Dr Sajjad said permission for outdoor weddings has been granted from June 1, adding that the PMA believes the decision to lift restrictions has been taken in haste.

“This hasty decision can take us towards resurgence in the number of Covid-19 cases. It has been observed that the number of cases has been increasing after Eid. The decision should have been taken in the next week, after a detailed review of the coronavirus situation in the country.”

He said that even before the third wave of Covid-19, the PMA had warned the government not to lift the restrictions because the situation could worsen, and it happened: the situation all over Pakistan deteriorated, especially in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Islamabad Capital Territory.

He also said that according to the National Command & Operation Centre (NCOC), to date 890,391 people have been infected with the coronavirus and 19,987 have died, while during the past 24 hours 4,207 new cases have been reported and 131 people have died.

“Our testing capacity is low and should be increased to 50,000 a day in each province. We regretfully say that the resurgence of coronavirus always takes place due to the government’s flexible attitude in implementing the SOPs strictly. We can’t overcome the situation with this attitude. Whatever sector is opened, there should be strict implementation of the SOPs.”

Dr Sajjad said the coronavirus situation in Sindh, especially in Karachi, is worsening day by day. He said the positivity ratio is rapidly increasing. He warned that if the situation is not controlled, the increasing burden of disease will further rise. He also pointed out that beds in the city’s Covid-designated hospitals can run short.

“The circumstances are rapidly turning into a Punjab-like situation. We suggest the Sindh government to closely monitor the situation and take the decision to lift restrictions according to the circumstances,” he said, adding that a uniform policy should be implemented in consultation with all provinces and stakeholders.

He said the NCOC had appreciated people working for corona during the Eid holidays, adding that it was a good gesture, but doctors, nurses, paramedics and vaccinators should also be appreciated as they also had worked during the holidays. The PMA appreciates all healthcare workers who served the nation during Eid, he concluded.

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