KARACHI: The Sindh government on Monday announced sweeping restrictions to curtail the spread of the pandemic in the province after Health Ministry data showed 50 percent of the active coronavirus cases in the country were present in the province.
Confirmed infections climbed to 309,647 after the province reported 1,529 new infections on Monday. The authorities tested 21,808 samples to receive back a positivity ratio of 7 percent.
It also reported 11 deaths, raising the toll to 4,920. Meanwhile, the recoveries rose by 599 to 281,596. Overall, the province now has 23,131 active cases of the coronavirus.
A meeting of the provincial task force on the pandemic held under the chairmanship Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced a ban on unnecessary movement after 8:00 pm starting May 25.
It also directed the police to stop people travelling in cars “unnecessarily”.
The new directions suggested the businesses will operate until 6pm, while bakeries and milk shops will be allowed to operate until midnight. Pharmacies in shopping malls and superstores will close by 6:00 pm.
Indoor or outdoor dining will not be allowed at restaurants. However, delivery and takeaway will be permitted.
Public transport — intercity, intra-city and inter-provincial — will be allowed subject to 50 percent occupancy and compliance with health guidelines.
All education institutions including schools, colleges and universities will remain closed for two weeks until the situation improves, or until further review by the task force.
Fridays and Sundays will be observed as closed days by businesses across the province except Hyderabad where Fridays and Saturdays will be observed as closed days instead.
During the meeting, the chief minister further said if the people follow the guidelines for two more weeks, the latest rise in new infections can be arrested. “We can ease Covid-19 restrictions in the city [Karachi] when new cases are restricted.”
He said that he will pay surprise visits to check the implementation of guidelines, adding that 50 percent of the total cases in the country are from Sindh.
He noted that complaints have been received from the southern and eastern districts of Karachi and directed the respective deputy commissioners to ensure the implementation of safety protocols in their jurisdictions.
With regard to the positivity rate of cases in Karachi, the session was informed that it stood at 21 percent in district East, 16 percent in district South, and 10 percent in district Central. Other districts of the province meanwhile had 11 percent in Hyderabad, 10 percent in Dadu and 8 percent in Sukkur.
The province announced on Sunday to continue strict measures to counter the rise of cases by closing educational institutes, marriage halls, restaurants for the next 14 days and banning inter-provincial and inter-city transport over the weekend.
Pakistan confirmed 3,060 new cases and 57 deaths during the last 24 hours, said the NCOC in its daily update.
The new cases increased the total number of confirmed cases to 903,599, including 820,374 recoveries and 62,917 active cases across the country.
Punjab confirmed 334,760 cases, the highest in the country, followed by Sindh which has 309,647 positive cases, the statement said.
The death toll from Covid-related infections has risen to 20,308, said the NCOC, adding that 4,763 patients are in critical condition.
The authority has conducted 12,837,818 tests officially so far since February last year when the first case was detected.
A total of 5,358,808 Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered until Monday, including 1,286,429 persons who have been fully vaccinated.
The NCOC is expected to hold an important meeting with the participation of provincial governments on Monday to analyse the current situation, measures against the spread of the virus and reopening of educational institutes.