KARACHI         -            Sindh government, owing to on-going partial lockdown in the province, has decided to distribute two million ration bags among the poor to keep their kitchen running. 

This decision was taken in a high-level meeting held here at the Chief Minister House with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in the chair.

The meeting was attended by Corps Commander Karachi, Lt Gen Humayun Aziz, Director General Rangers (Sindh) Major General Omar Bukhari and Brigadier Sami of Corps 5, said an official statement here on Thursday.

The chief minister was assisted by provincial ministers, Dr Azra Pechuho, Saeed Ghani, Adviser to CM on Law Murtaza Wahab, Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IG Sindh Mushtaq Maher, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro and focal person MB Dharejo.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has released Rs7.21 billion, including Rs6.9 billion to health department and rest of the amount to commissioner Sukkur to contain and combat COVID-19 threat.

“I’ll make more funds available to contain, curb and combat the threat of coronavirus but this will be possible when we all will work together with spirit”.

The chief minister briefed the meeting about the measures he had taken to contain further spread of coronavirus.

“ With the closure of malls, restaurants or what it is being termed partial lockdown, we have tried to slow down the spread so that necessary arrangements for establishing isolation centers and field hospitals can be made accordingly,” he explained.

Corps Commander Karachi, Lt-Gen Humayun Aziz appreciated timely efforts of the provincial government and emphasized upon provision of ration to the daily wagers and other poor people so that they continue to meet their food requirements.

Syed Murad Ali Shah said that he had already held a number of meetings with the philanthropists, NGOs like Edhi, Saylani and others to seek their help and guidance for preparation of ration bags and development of mechanism to provide ration bags to the needy.

The chief minister and corps commander decided to constitute a committee under Sindh Minister for Education and Labour Saeed Ghani with Commissioner Karachi Zulfiqar Shehlwani and Additional Secretary Health Aleem Lashari as its members. The Corps-5 Brigadier Sami and his two team members would also be part of this committee. The committee would decide about the contents and quantity of food items for ration, and then develop a mechanism for their distribution.

A warehouse to store ration bags would be established from where onward supply of the bags to all over Sindh would be made. The quality of food items and their quantity as agreed by the committee would be ensured. However, it was decided that the ration bag would have food stuff sufficient to a family for one-month period.

It was also decided that the houses after supply of ration would be marked as `supplied’ so that duplication could be avoided. A helpline would also be set up where the deserving people would get themselves registered for ration bags and after necessary verification ration bags would be supplied.

The meeting also decided that a 10,000-bed isolation centre and field hospital would be established in Expo Center Karachi with the support of Corps 5. Commissioner Karachi would coordinate with the Pak Army for the purpose.

In the first phase, one hall of the Expo Center would be converted into Isolation Center and then more halls would be acquired. In the first hall beds, medicines, necessary equipment, posting of doctors and paramedical staff etc., would be made available.

Sindh Chief Minister said that he had made over 16,000 swabs/VTMs and 13,000 kits available to test coronavirus infection in the province.

“But, we will have to enhance our testing capacity which is limited to only 600,” he remarked.

The rations bags will be stuffed with rice, wheat flour, ghee, sugar, tea, pulses and spices.

It was decided that the teams of the government and the corps commander will work in tandem.

The Sindh government team will be headed by provincial education minister Saeed Ghani, while Brigadier Samee will lead the team of the Corps Commander Karachi.

Chief Minister Murad Ali talking in the meeting said that the coronavirus could be halted with minimum travel and continued screening adding that Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea have controlled the rapid speed of the virus infection.

“It is a global crisis which demands the world leaders’ summit to devise a joint strategy to address the emergency,” chief minister observed.

“We have taken all out steps to control transmission of the disease,” Shah said.

He called for ban on big gatherings and imposition of strict quarantine.

“In Sukkur 151 people arrived from Taftan diagnosed positive.”

Across Sindh 788 tests were conducted and 60 of them found infected with the disease, he said.

He told the session that a third patient has recovered from Covid-19 in Sindh, which is a good omen.