Closing down the cities for weeks is not a solution: Asad Umar
As the Covid-19 cases increased in Karachi, federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar dismissed the decision of shutting down entire cities to stop the virus from spreading.
He stated that Sindh, along with Balochistan, has the lowest compliance with pandemic-related standard operating procedures (SOPs), at 33 percent.
Pakistan has been facing the fourth wave of the pandemic and the number of daily cases has been continuously increasing.
More restrictions and a complete lockdown in Karachi are being considered by the Sindh administration. Asad Umar, the chairman of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), disagrees with the notion, saying that Pakistan should stick to the smart lockdown strategy, which has worked in the past and has not resulted in significant financial losses.
“We should not forget that the working class and laborers will have to pay the price of complete lockdown. Smart lockdown is a tried-and-tested strategy and it should be implemented. Closing down the cities for weeks is not a solution,” he stated.
On the other side, he applauded the Sindh government’s efforts to contain the virus’s spread and implement the SOPs.
SOP compliance was 56.4 percent in Islamabad, 46.6 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 42.7 percent in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 37.4 percent in Gilgit-Baltistan, and 38 percent in Punjab, according to Mr. Umar. Sindh and Balochistan have the lowest compliance rates at 33 percent.
He said students above 18 years of age, the people working in the transport sector, public sector employees, personnel of law enforcement agencies, and staff working at hotels, restaurants, wedding halls, shopping malls and banks would have to get inoculated by Aug 31. Teachers will have to get them vaccinated by Aug 1 to continue working in educational institutions.
Murtaza Wahab, the spokesman for the Sindh government, while talking to the media, was not sure about the imposition of complete lockdown in Karachi but said it would be “something like that.” However, he ruled out any consideration of the NCOC’s (Asad Umar) advice saying the provincial government was not bound to follow the federal body’s line.
“But at the same time we want political unanimity,” Mr. Wahab said when asked about the possible decision of a meeting of the Sindh Task Force on Coronavirus scheduled for Friday (today).
“Whatever the issue, the PTI government, and party leaders have a history of criticizing the Sindh government. We don’t want to create such a situation this time when our prime challenge is to contain the spread of the coronavirus and save the lives of the people. The Sindh government is determined to give priority to people’s health and lives. The decision would be made in tomorrow’s meeting and I am not sure what it would be. But whatever would be best for this objective, we would go for that.”
From Aug 1, unvaccinated people will no longer be allowed to enter government offices, schools, restaurants and, shopping malls, said Asad Umar, who heads the NCOC, a military-run body that oversees the pandemic response, at a joint news conference with the health minister in Islamabad.
Pakistan has seen coronavirus infections soar, dominated by Delta variant, and its poor health infrastructure is under extreme pressure.
The national positive test rate for Covid-19 stands at 7.53 percent, according to the NCOC. The rate in Karachi touched 23pc in recent weeks.
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