KARACHI                  -             Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that there are some weaknesses in the screening of passengers/pilgrims at the Jinnah Terminal in Karachi and on Taftan border, as a result of which a child, after remaining in Quarantine at Taftan, has been diagnosed with coronavirus in Quetta. “This shows that the screening system at Taftan is weak,” he said while presiding over the 14thmeeting of Taskforce on Coronavirus here at the CM House on Wednesday. He urged the provincial health department to make best arrangements for screening of the passengers at the Jinnah Terminal and request the Balochistan government to further strengthen its system installed at Taftan border for screening of the pilgrims.

The chief minister said that the child diagnosed with coronavirus in Quetta, who was released from the quarantine at Taftan might have affected other people in the quarantine there.

He directed the chief secretary to talk to Balochistan authorities for checking the patients in quarantine at Taftan. 

There are 13 coronavirus cases in Sindh, the CM was told, of whom eight had a travel history to Syria, three had travelled to Dubai and three to Iran.

The health department had gotten 26 samples of coronavirus tested on Wednesday (today), all of which were declared negative, Murad was informed.

The chief minister was told that a person, with a passport in his pocket, was found unconscious near Jinnah Hospital which showed that the passenger had returned from Iran by air on Wednesday. The patient had been hospitalized and his sample had been sent for the lab test, the chief minister was informed.

The chief minister said that this pointed out that the screening arrangements made at Jinnah Terminal needed to be made more effective. However, he added, that the passenger might have some other issue rather than coronavirus.  The chief secretary told the chief minister that he had hired 50 health workers at the airport. They would be performing duties in three shifts.

Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said that she, along with her team, visited the airport and made necessary arrangements for developing quarantine facility outside the Immigration in 25 cubicles. “This Civil Aviation Authority has agreed to develop the [quarantine] facility. The Sindh Health Department and Indus Hospital would provide technical support and human resource,” she told the meeting.

The chief minister was told that 142 suspects were still in quarantine at their homes, of whom 34 would be completing their mandatory isolation on Thursday (today), while 66 on Friday (tomorrow).  It was pointed out that of 59 passengers belonging to different districts of the province, 43 had been tracked, and 36 of these passengers had been quarantined.

The chief minister was also told that the public hospitals had shared the data of 1,874 patients of pneumonia and flue while the private hospitals had furnished a list of 702 patients.

The health department told that they were taking necessary action on the details provided by the public and private hospitals.

It was also disclosed that 27 samples of severe Pneumonia cases had been sent for the lab test.

The chief minister decided that the 850 pilgrims arriving from Taftan at Sukkur would be tested. “I would arrange an aero plane to airlift the samples of all the incoming pilgrims from Sukkur and bring them to Karachi for the tests,” he said.  The chief minister urged the media to air public service messages and also urged the people not to go to the National Stadium to witness PSL match on Thursday (today) if they had symptoms of pneumonia, influenza and chest congestion. The police dept told the chief minister that 2,500 cops would perform duties to provide security to PSL matches.

The chief minister also discussed with participants of the meeting opening or keeping the educational institutions closed. Half of the participants supported opening of the schools while the other half suggested their closure.

It was pointed out that the examinations were around the corner, therefore the educational institutions be allowed to resume classes. The chief minister directed education and health departments to prepare an advisory for educational institutions and the parents so that the children of the people having travel history should stay away from the institutions for certain period of quarantine or completion of medical investigations.

The issue of opening educational institutions or keeping them closed would be discussed further on Thursday (today).

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers Nisar Khuhro, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Saeed Ghani, Syed Nasir Shah, Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, Home Secretary Usman Chachar, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shalwani, Secretary Finance Hassan Naqvi, Additional IG Imran Yakoob, secretaries, school education, colleges and U&Bs, DG PDMA Salman Shah, DG Surveillance Dr Asif, Dr Faisal of Agha Khan, acting Director CAA Zafarullah, chief medical officer CAA Dr Kamran, Major Sami of Corps-5, Dr Aziz of Indus Hospital, Dr Sara of WHO, Col Hafeez of Rangers HQs, Dr MB Dharejo, DD FIA Rauf Shaikh, and Commissioner Sukkur Shafiq Mahesar participated on video link.