KARACHI - The Provincial Task Force on Coronavirus, Sindh has decided to reopen educational, business and social activities in all over the province from September 15, as was proposed by NCC, but the provincial government, once again review the situation in the first week of next month to go ahead with the plan.

The meeting was held here on Saturday with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in the chair. The meeting was attended by Provincial ministers, Dr Azra Pechuho, Saeed Ghani, Mukesh Chawla, Nasir Shah and Murtaza Wahab, Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IG Sindh Mushtaq Maher, PSCM Sajid jamal Abro, ACS Home Usman Chachar, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shahalwani, Secretary Health kazim Jatoi, deputy DG Rangers, Brigadier Hussain Masud of Corps-5, Commander Rizan of Pak Navy, Dr Aziz, Dr Faisal, Mushtaq Chhapra, Ayaz Soomro of UNICEF, Dr Sara of WHO and others.

At the outset of the meeting, the Chief Minister said that just after CCI meeting the Prime Minister had chaired NCC meeting in Islamabad on August 6 in which it was decided to reopen all business activities, including education institutions and others from September 15. However, it was decided that the provincial governments would review the situation in their task force meetings to take final decisions.

COVID-19: Minister Health Dr Azra Pechuho told the meeting that the coronavirus situation had improved. The number of new cases has started declining. At this the CM said that during the last 30 days cases have dropped down. He added that on July 8, 1782 new cases were reported and on every successive day the number went dropping down and finally on August 7, 2020 the 487 new cases were reported. “This doesn’t mean that coronavirus has been eliminated or contained but it teaches us that the virus still exists and we have to learn how to live with it until its vaccine is prepared,” he said.

WHO recommendations

Following this, Sindh health secretary Kazim Jatoi read out the World Health Organisation’s recommendations on dealing with the pandemic.

Listing them, he said that the international body had advised to share best practices, apply lessons learned from countries that had resumed business and social activities and where the resurgence of Covid-19 had been mitigated.

Further, countries should sustain political commitment and leadership for national strategies, initiate localised, response driven activities driven by science, data and experience and engage all sectors in addressing the impact of pandemic. They should also continue to enhance the capacity for public health surveillance, testing and contact tracing; strengthen community engagement, empower individuals and build trust by addressing misinformation and disinformation and providing clear guidance, rationales and resources for public health measures

Moreover, they should engage in Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator - a global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines; participate in relevant trials and prepare for safe and effective therapeutic vaccine introduction; maintain essential health services with sufficient funding, supplies and human resources; and prepare health systems to cope with resources, seasonal influenza, other disease outbreaks and natural disasters.

Maitian essential health services with sufficient funding, supplies and human resources, prepare health systems to cope with resources, prepare health systems to cope with seasonal influenza, other current disease outbreak and natural disasters. The Chief Minister decided that the COVID-19 hospitals established at NIPA and University Road would continue to function but they would be strengthened further, however, he directed minister health to review the requirement of Field Isolation center at Expo Center. “If you want to continue with the facilities please go ahead otherwise it may be wound up and its equipment may be shifted where they are required,” he said.

The Chief Minister sought the opinion of leading doctors in the meeting about opening of the social, educational and business activities and they supported opening them but under strict SOPs Policy decision. The Chief Minister taking a policy decision said that the business activities would be allowed to function up to 9 pm while the restaurants would be allowed to operate upto 9 pm. “This may be enhanced on weekends,” he said and added that we have to change our behaviours by starting day early in the morning and ending latest by 10 pm. Mr Shah said that in the first week of September we would sit again to review the situation and decide the opening of the social, business and educational activities. “Once it is allowed the home department would issue notification of the opening of the activities and announce SOPs,” he said. Mr Shah thanked all the members of the taskforce for their valuable input under which decisions were taken. “Our decisions were so accurate and workable that other provinces followed them,” he said and added “Inshallah we will take final decisions of opening the activities together”.