KARACHI: A meeting of the task force on coronavirus Saturday decided to keep schools across Sindh open despite a surge of new cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
The meeting of the body, held under the chair of Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, also decided to conduct a survey in the hospitals — both government and private — to gauge their capacity of handling the growing number of new infections and what else these facilities needed to keep doing so.
The body declared wearing of facemasks in public places mandatory, adding it was also binding on wedding halls attendants, markets goers and those operating in public places.
It was also directed that the guests at wedding halls should be served food in boxes. Only vaccinated people will be allowed to enter the markets.
The district administrations ensure to check the vaccination cards of the visitors, the body added.
Chief Minister Shah warned that civil servants who did not cover their faces would be penalised. It was proposed the fine could be equal to the violator’s one day’s salary.
The government also decided to accelerate the vaccination campaign through the province since the surge in new cases, as the chief minister said, was due to ignoring the standard operating procedures (SoPs).
Shah expressed the hope the government would also overcome this wave if the public extended its support and cooperation.
The meeting participants also decided that restaurants will be monitored and action be taken against those that did not comply with health guidelines.
Another session of the task force will be held after a few days, with the chief minister adding that further decisions will be taken on a review of the situation then.
The megacity of Karachi was experiencing an explosion of infections driven by the Omicron variant as within days the positivity ratio has crossed 35 percent. Only in 24 hours, there was an increase of 6.5 percent in positivity rate.
Confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Sindh have climbed to 497,153. It reported 3,089 new infections on Saturday after conducting 15,719 tests, receiving a positivity ratio of 19.6 percent.
The province reported no deaths and 2,339 recoveries, leaving 7,693 deaths and 471,845 recovered.
Sindh now has 17,615 active cases of the coronavirus.