KARACHI - Sindh Minister for Information, Local Government, Housing & Town Planning, Religious Affairs, Forest and Wildlife Syed Nasir Hussain Shah has said that 25 percent of the total coronavirus tests being conducted in Sindh province at present resulted in positive, which was extremely alarming.

The provincial Information Minister said that this was the reason why the Sindh government was repeatedly saying that if the guidelines issued on health were not followed, there could be huge losses. “If a complete lockdown had been imposed in the beginning, the coronavirus would not have spread so much today, but now we have to live with it for a long time,” he said.

He said this while addressing a press conference on Tuesday. Sindh Minister for Transport Owais Shah and Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister for Law Barrister Murtaza Wahab were also present during the press conference.

Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said, the more people take precautionary measures, the more they would be able to protect themselves and others from coronavirus. He said that it was unfortunate that despite repeated explanations, people were not ready to understand and were not taking the coronavirus seriously. “Our healthcare system has not the enough capacity to handle so many patients, so people have to take the coronavirus seriously,” he added.

He said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was fortunate to have a sensible and mature opposition in the Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, which was at least supporting it completely on the issue of lockdown, adding that, the situation in Sindh was completely different.

The provincial Information Minister said that whenever the Sindh Government talked about imposing lockdown or ensuring implementation on health advisory or Standard Operating Procedures just to save the lives of the people in the province, the opposition immediately held a press conference against it. He said that people had been constantly incited against the Sindh Government baselessly by the opposition, adding that, the Sindh government was portrayed as a villain or enemy.

Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that the Sindh Government was continuously increasing the capacity of conducting testing for detection of people affected with COVID-19. He said that in terms of population, the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Karachi was less than in Lahore and Islamabad. He said there was an urgent need to increase testing capacity to detect coronavirus patients across the country. He said that after the meeting of the National Coordination Committee a unanimous voice and agreed decisions should reach the people, so that people took these decisions seriously and realized that they had to follow these decisions.

The provincial Information Minister said that if differences came to light after the coordination committee’s meeting, people would never take the decisions regarding the lockdown seriously. He said that Sindh Government would ensure implementation of the decisions taken by the Federal Government regarding lockdown across the province. He further said that when Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was told that the people in the province were censuring the Sindh Government owing to imposition of tougher lockdown, and that they would not vote for the party in the next elections, the Chairman PPP responded by asking the Sindh Chief Minister that he could lose the elections but would not compromise on people’s lives.

Nasir Shah said that although the decisions taken by the Sindh Government were unpopular, but all these decisions were taken for the benefit of the people. He said that the Chairman PPP had also asked the Sindh Government to work with the Federal Government on the issue of coronavirus from the very outbreak of the pandemic. Regarding controlling inflation, he said that Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had issued clear instructions to the commissioners of all districts in this regard, directing them to keep an eye on inflation, and ensure that prices of essential commodities did not go up.

The provincial Information Minister said that the Sindh Chief Minister was trying to ensure that the prices of essential commodities should come down after the fall in prices of oil products. He said that transporters would also be required to reduce their fares. He also appealed to the people to fully implement the precautionary measures during travelling as intra-city transport was being opened across the province. He said that from now onwards everyone had to take precautionary measures at all times, adding that this was the only way that they could protect themselves and their loved ones from getting infected with the coronavirus.

Syed Nasir Shah further said that the Sindh Government would have no objection if the services of Pakistan Army were sought for ensuring the implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). He said the opposition leader in Sindh feared that if the government arranged for his coronavirus test, it would be positive by any means. He clarified that he and the Chief Minister of Sindh had also got tested for the detection of coronavirus from Dow Lab.

Speaking on the occasion, Barrister Murtaza Wahab urged the people to take precautionary measures as much as possible as the only way to keep oneself safe from the coronavirus was to take precautionary measures. He said people should now make face masks and senitizers a part of their lives. He further said that the situation regarding coronavirus in the province was very bad as not only the elderly but also a large number of children had been infected with coronavirus. Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that since transport was also opening up, the principle of social distance must be adopted while traveling. “The Coronavirus is a dangerous fact because there is no cure for it yet,” he said.