KARACHI                    -             Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah has allowed 640 pilgrims, currently quarantined at Labour Colony in Sukkur, who were tested negative for COVID-19, to return to their homes, but made them bound to follow the SOP they had been given.

He took this decision while chairing the 27th meeting of the Taskforce on Coronavirus here at the CM House on Tuesday. The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, advisor to the CM on law, chief secretary, IGP Sindh, PSCM, home secretary, representatives of Corps 5, Rangers, Pak Navy, FIA, Airport, Civil Aviation and WHO.

Sukkur Commissioner Shafiq Mahesar told the chief minister through a video link that there were 640 pilgrims who had been tested thrice, and every time their results were found negative. The chief minister directed him to arrange special buses for sending these 640 pilgrims to their respective homes. “I would suggest to you to ask them to follow the SOP under which they will have to stay in isolation at their homes for the next 10 days,” the CM said, and added, “You, (commissioner Sukkur) and your team must have the mobile numbers and addresses of these pilgrims so that you could keep inquiring after them.”

The chief minister directed the chief secretary to issue directives to the deputy commissioners (DCs) of the districts where these 640 pilgrims were heading to receive them. “Make these DCs responsible for keep an eye on these pilgrims for the next 10 days,” he said.

Murad congratulated the outgoing pilgrims, and hoped that they would voluntarily stay at their homes for at least 10 days in order to protect themselves, their families and neighbours from the coronavirus. “I am quite happy that we have been relieved of a great burden,” he said referring to the departure of pilgrims from Sukkur.

410 COVID-19 cases:

The chief minister was told that the number of coronavirus cases in Sindh had reached 410, out of which 143 were from Karachi, 265 of the pilgrims who had returned from Iran and two of other districts. The number of cases in the city who contracted the disease locally had also reached 91, Murad was informed.

The chief minister was told that when 4,041 samples, including 2,443 from Karachi, 168 from other districts and 1,430 of pilgrims were tested, 143 of Karachi, two of other districts and 265 pilgrims had been tested positive, while some 485 results, including 83 of Karachi, 93 of other districts and 309 of pilgrims were still awaited.

It may be noted here that 796 patients are under treatment at Sukkur-1, 303 at Sukkur -II, 83 at Larkana, 98 at Malir and 104 are in home isolation.  The health department, on the instructions of the chief minister, has started corona-case mapping. The map shows that three cases are in Gadap, 15 in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, nine in Gulberg, nine in Jamshed Town, seven in Liaquatabad, four in Malir, 10 in Nazimabad, three in North Karachi, one in Orangi, 41 in Saddar Town.

The chief minister directed the health department to share the mapping data with deputy commissioners so that they could take necessary measures to contain the spread of pandemic. Presenting daily report, the chief minister was told that Sindh government hospitals have reported 1874 pneumonia cases, of them 251 have been detested while the private hospitals reported 702 cases and 21 of them have also been tested.

Sampling Arrangement: The chief minister in his last meeting had directed the health departments to improve sampling arrangements at home. The health department told the chief minister that 18 mobile clinic vehicles of Indus hospital have been made available to collect the samples.

Lockdown: The chief minister said that the lockdown needed to be made more strict. “People are still moving here and there without any restricts- this was not the objective to impose lockdown,” he said.  He directed IGP Sindh to strict measure and make the lock down more strict and not allow people roaming in the city.

The chief minister decided that all the shops, including groceries, will remain completely closed from 8pm to 8 am. However, pharmacies, medical stores and hospitals will operate as usual. The chief minister directed the chief secretary and commissioner Karachi to close down all the big industries and direct banks to open their necessary branches. The doctosr would be expemted from the lock down, the chief minister said.

COVID-19 test machine: The chief minister was told that Wuhan institute of Virology, China, has prepared a rapid machine for testing samples of COVID-19. The machine accepts the swabs of the throat while prevailing system accepts swabs of nose.

The chief minister directed his principle secretary to sit with the Dr Faisal and Dr Bari and discuss and decide whether the machine was fit for Pakistan or not. “If the decision is taken in favour of procuring the machine then place order for 100 machines,” he issued directives and said he would request the federal government to fly an special plane to China to transport the machine for Sindh.