KARACHI                      -                The biggest city and business hub of the country witnessed a complete lockdown on Monday as the security forces and police patrolled roads and streets to enforce the provincial government’s decision to keep people at their homes amid rising tally of the coronavirus cases in the metropolis as well as in other parts of Sindh.

According to details, over 130 cases of the virus have been reported from the city, including 88 of those who contracted the disease locally.

Police and security forces’ personnel blocked the main thoroughfares of the city, including Shara-e-Faisal, Shahra-e-Pakistan and University Road, by setting up barricades to restrict unnecessary movement of masses.

The law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) arrested over 300 people for violating section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 04 of the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act, 2014, as per the Sindh government’s notification about the lockdown.

According to CCPO Karachi Ghulam Nabi Memon, over 65 cases have been registered against those violating the ban.

Footages of police and other LEAs personnel nabbing the violators, admonishing them and giving them minor punishments have also been uploaded on social media before allowing them to return to their homes.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani also visited parts of the city to ensure that the lockdown announced by the provincial government was enforced in letter and spirit.

The commissioner also visited grocery and others shops that are exempted from the closure and checked the availability of basic food and other items.

The commissioner asked the people to refrain from coming out on roads unnecessarily in order to make the governments’ efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 successful.

70 coronavirus help centers set up:

Moreover, Jamaat-e-Islami has also set up 70 coronavirus help centers where the party volunteers, with the support of Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), are performing their duties.

The volunteers are also providing their services at the quarantine centers set up by the provincial authorities at the Expo Centre and Gadap.

The party has announced that it has also launched a campaign to collect funds from the rich and affluent people in order to provide ration to those in need.

CM chairs 26th meeting of Taskforce on Coronavirus:

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus positive cases in Sindh has reached 394.

Out of 833 pilgrims, who arrived at Sukkur in phase-II, 677 were tested negative for the virus while only 109 were tested positive.

This was disclosed at the 26thmeeting of the Taskforce on Coronavirus held here under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, mayor Karachi, chief secretary, IGP Sindh, PSCM, additional chief secretary home, additional IG, representatives of WHO, Aga Khan Hospital, Indus Hospital, Corps 5, Rangers, Airport, Civil Aviation, FIA, health dept and others.

The chief minister was told that out of the 394 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Sindh, 134 were reported from Karachi and other districts, 151 of pilgrims of Sukkur phase-1 and 109 of Sukkur Phase-II.

He was told that the number of local transmission cases had also reached 83. The chief minister said this was why he had been forced to take a hard decision of imposing a lockdown in the province. The meeting was told that the health department had so far conducted 3,450 tests, out of which 3,020 had been declared negative while 394 positive.

In Sindh, 10 cases were reported on March 9, 25 cases on March 18, and 21 cases on March 21, it was disclosed.

The meeting was further informed that at present 1,099 pilgrims were under treatment at Sukkur, 83 at Larkana and 98 at Malir.

Testing Capacity: The CM was told that the overall capacity of testing coronavirus samples at 10 Sindh hospitals was 1,200 per day.

The chief minister said that he had provided necessary resources for enhancing this capacity, and therefore, it must be increased to 3,400 samples per day. It may be noted here that last week the capacity was 180 tests per day.

Daily report: According to the daily report, submitted by 29 government hospitals, 1,874 cases of pneumonia were referred to them, out of which 18 were tested for the coronavirus, while the private hospitals reported 702 such cases, out of which 19 were found fit for the tests. The chief minister was told that six international flights brought 987 passengers on Monday, all of whom were screened.

One passenger was found suspected Covid-19 patient and his sample had been sent for the test, Murad was told.

He was further informed that 14 local flights had landed at Karachi airport on Monday, of which three were cancelled. Of 918 passengers who came on board these local flights, two of them were coronavirus suspects, therefore their samples were sent for the tests, the chief minister was told.

Lockdown: The Control Room established at S&GA received 153 complaints, of them 104 were about closure of shops, two of violation of lock down, one of failure of electricity and such others.

The chief minister was told that different organization had requested the control room for exemption of lockdown for their necessary staff members. The chief minister directed the chief secretary to decide the matters on his own.   

The chief minister directed IG Police to further tighten the lockdown.

Early disbursement of Pension: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed Finance department to start giving pension to retired employees of the provincial government from March 25. “The elderly people have weak immune system, therefore they should not be allowed to gather at bank at a time,” he said and issued directive that their pension be paid right from March 25 and onward.

He also urged the pensions to start drawing their pensions from March 25 and take their proper care. The secretary finance has issued a letter to the Accountant General Sindh and district account officers/treasury officers for early payment of pensions.

Withholding of Funds: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah due to outbreak of Coronavirus in the province has decided to take necessary measures to control the expenditures of the provincial government. Therefore, he decided that other than regular salary and pension, all the payments such as commutation, gratuity, encashment of LPR would stand withheld.

The secretary finance has informed the Accountant General of Sindh, district account officers and treasury officers about the government decision.