–Lockdown to open in phases, only minimal staff to be allowed in workplaces
–Federal government should extend lockdown to save us all from bigger troubles, says Murad
KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Thursday said that the provincial government wants to extend the lockdown across the province by one week until April 21.
The chief minister, speaking to senior journalists, said that the Sindh government wanted all provinces in the country to take unified steps regarding the lockdown that was imposed as local transmissions of the novel coronavirus increased in Sindh.
“However, the Sindh cabinet will take the final decision about the lockdown,” he said.
Murad shared that 92 new cases had emerged in the province over the past 24 hours, while 69 people had recovered and one passed away.
He said that 1,380 pilgrims had arrived in Sindh, out of whom 1,108 tested negative. Even so, he said, they were quarantined for 14 days and had gone home yesterday.
“Currently, the number of positive cases in Sindh is 1,128 and we will not be able to handle things if the number touches 5,000,” he said.
“We are preparing SOPs for everything including industries and factories,” he added.
The chief minister said that closures across the province will not be lifted at once but through a systematic process. “If factories are opened, a minimum number of employees will work in them,” he said.
Murad said that shopping malls will remain closed. He said that the business community was exerting pressure on the government to resume economic activity while small traders have supported the lockdown measures.
Saying that allowing the construction sector to keep operating will can contribute to the spread of the coronavirus, Murad urged the federal government to extend the lockdown for an additional week.
“If the federal government extends the lockdown for an additional week, the situation can be brought under control,” he said.
The chief minister also expressed concerns that the virus can spread through the distribution of rations as thousands were assembling at places to receive them.
“We have reservations with the federal government over several issues,” he said.
Meanwhile, a complete lockdown will be observed across the province this Friday between 12pm to 3pm, the Sindh Home Department said.
In a statement, the department said that no sort of religious gatherings or congregations would be allowed during the complete lockdown and the movement of citizens was banned as well.
However, the government has exempted people involved in an emergency situation.
Last Friday, the provincial government had, after consultation with ulema, had imposed a similar lockdown during the same timings in which all kinds of business activities were suspended.
The government of Sindh on April 3 had extended the lockdown until April 14, issuing a set of new orders and guidelines to encourage social distancing and contain the coronavirus from spreading.
EXPERTS ADVICE AGAINST LIFTING LOCKDOWN:
Earlier this week, however, doctors and experts had advised the chief minister to extend the lockdown in order to curb the spread of the disease. Experts from China said that an eight-week lockdown was crucial to prevent the virus from spreading.
During a meeting with the chief minister, heads of private hospitals and experts from China said that if the lockdown was lifted next week, the virus could spread at a faster rate.
They were of the view that a large population of the city comprised of slum dwellers living in small house with large families and traveling in public buses in crowds.
They said that if such kind of crowding was allowed, people would get infected in buses and on the streets and would take the virus back to their home and get their family members and localities infected.
The chief minister had said that he would consult with his cabinet and other stakeholders on the issue.