KARACHI - Lifting the ‘smart lockdown’ from 41 union councils (UCs) of the metropolis, the city administration sealed another set of coronavirus hotspots in Karachi on Friday. The move comes as Federal Planning and Development Minister told the media in Islamabad that Karachi had yet to see improvements with regard to implementing Covid-19 standard operating procedures. The Karachi commissioner’s office issued a notification on the day locking down localities for up to two weeks. The deputy commissioners (DCs) of East, South, West and Malir districts further identified the areas to be sealed, which had been highlighted as having coronavirus clusters by district health officers.

In West district, the areas to be sealed include Gulshan-e-Maymar Blocks X, Y and Z in Gadap UC-5 Songal, Docks and Majeed Colony in Keamari UC-3, Saeedabad Block 5G, 5J and A3 in Baldia Town UC-5, Metroville Blocks 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 in SITE’s UC-4, and Data Nagar’s Area A/B as well as Millatabad, Gulfamabad and Aligarh Colony in Orangi Town UC-11 and UC-12. These areas have been sealed for two weeks, from July 3 till July 17, according to the West DC’s notification. Meanwhile, in South district, the locked down localities include Khori Garden Market and Machi Miyani Market in Arambagh, Khayaban-e-Rahat, Clifton Blocks 4 and 5 and Bath Island in Civil Lines, Doli Khata, Shoe Market and all commercial areas of Jeelani Masjid Road and Hari Masjid Road in Garden, Madni Road and Moosa Lane in Lyari, and Bizerta Line in Saddar. These areas are to remain sealed until July 16.

Separately, the Malir DC’s office imposed a complete lockdown on Gulshan-e-Hadeed Phase I and II in Bin Qasim UC-6 until Tuesday. Only essential services are to operate here while the Rangers’ services have been sought to ensure the restrictions on movement and adherence to the standard operating procedures.

The East DC followed suit, announcing several areas to be locked down in the district from Saturday until July 18. These include Gulshan-e-Iqbal Blocks 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 13-A, 13-B, 13-C and 13-D/1, as well as Gulistan-e-Jauhar Block 13, PECHS Block 2 and Tariq Road.

A complete lockdown is to be implemented in the earmarked areas, whereby movement will be restricted and business activity suspended. Only grocery and pharmacy stores will be permitted to operate, Monday through Friday, from 6am to 7pm.

All persons entering and exiting the sealed areas will be required to wear masks. Directives issued earlier will be in place once again, with only one member of a household, carrying their CNIC, allowed to leave the house to purchase groceries, medicines and other essential items. Home delivery or takeaway from eateries will also not be permitted in the sealed areas, nor will gatherings be allowed in private residences. Public transport and private ride-hailing services have also been barred in these localities.

The notifications state that efforts will be made to provide rations to the needy in these areas, via philanthropic organisations and government resources, while authorities will strive to provide mobile dispensaries and mobile utility stores.

Reopening UCs

Meanwhile, the city’s localities that were sealed in the previous iteration of the smart lockdown returned to normal on Friday. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Karachi commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani said that a 15-day lockdown had been imposed earlier in the UCs worst affected by the virus, according to a health department report. “The smart lockdown will not be extended in these UCs and trade and other activities have been normalised,” he said.

Restrictions remain

On Wednesday, the Sindh government had extended measures in place to control the spread of the coronavirus till July 15. Reiterating that the threat of the virus had increased rather than subsiding, a government notification stated that Covid-19 hotspots could see all activity restricted on the orders of the Sindh government or district administration.

Apart from that, all educational and training institutes, marriage halls, business centres and beauty salons are to remain closed and all social, religious and public gatherings banned until the extended date. Moreover, the restrictions on cinema halls, amusement parks, picnic spots, sports clubs, gyms and interprovincial public transport are also to remain in place.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner Hyderabad Muhammad Abbas Baloch has asked the departments concerned and administration Hyderabad to prepare comprehensive contingency plans in order to meet any eventuality during expected heavy rains of monsoon season and floods. He emphasized this while presiding over a meeting here on Friday which also attended among others by Mayor Hyderabad Syed Tayyab Hussain, Deputy Commissioner Fuad Ghaffar Soomro, Municipal Commissioner HMC Anees Ahmed Dasti and Managing Director WASA Muzaffar Memon.

While reviewing the arrangements for monsoon season, the Commissioner directed the officers of all concerned departments to complete all precautionary measures from their sides which included de-silting of drain lines, upgrading and activation of pumping stations as well as availability of required machinery and tools. The Mayor Hyderabad informed the meeting that in view of forecast of twenty percent more rainfall this, the HMC management has been engaged to prepare all arrangements to meeting the challenge however, he underlined the need of taking the elected representatives into confidence as they would be available in fields during emergency.

The Commissioner directed the HESCO management to complete the repair and maintenance work of all feeders prior to rainfalls in order avert power failure. The HESCO officers assured the Commissioner that work of supply of electricity to pumping stations  The Commissioner also asked the officers of Irrigation Department to ensure strengthening of vulnerable points of river dykes within stipulated period in order to avert losses of live and property during expected floods.

The Deputy Commissioner Hyderabad, Municipal Commissioner HMC and Managing Director WASA also briefed the Commissioner about the arrangements which made to meet the challenges of expected heavy rains and floods.