Murad warns of strict restrictions if coronavirus infections increase

KARACHI: Sindh has decided to endorse the decision taken by the National Command and Operation Center on the relaxation of specific non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) notified on May 15.

This was announced by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah during a meeting of the Provincial Task Force on Coronavirus at his office on Monday.

The province will, however, review the impact of Covid-19 in the post-Eid scenario on Thursday and may take strict decisions if the standard operating procedures (SOPs) are not being followed or a spike in the cases is reported, he said.

The meeting was attended by ministers administrative officials, military representatives, and World Health Organisation (WHO) staff.

At the outset of the meeting, the body endorsed relaxation in certain specific NPIs. It was decided, however, that the forum will again review its decision next Thursday.

“If the SOPs are not followed in letter and spirit, the government would take strict action and may withdraw the relaxation given to the NPIs,” the chief minister warned.

In a press conference after the meeting, Shah’s adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab said the provincial government did not like placing restrictions and they were imposed only when the situation went “out of control” and Covid-19 protocols were violated.

He said the positivity rate in Karachi and Hyderabad had increased, blaming it on SOPs violations. He said the taskforce had supported the NCOC decision to decrease restrictions from May 17, however, if there was no improvement or reduction in the new infections then “we will be compelled to take strict decisions.”

Addressing people, businessmen and sections opposing restrictions, he said: “The government does not like placing restrictions. We place restrictions when the situation goes out of control, when you violate restrictions, 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. 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”.

Addressing the issue of oxygen production capacity and said the Sindh government had called a session of the 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 of the meeting, said Murtaza, 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.

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