KARACHI                  -               The Sindh government and the government of Balochistan have agreed to share the data of 7,000 to 8,000 passengers coming from Iran via Taftan border so that they could be medically examined.

This was disclosed in a discussion of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah with Federal Minister for Interior Aijaz Shah at a follow-up meeting of the Taskforce on coronavirus held here at the CM House on Friday.

The CM inquired from the minister as to whether the reports of the federal government’s decision to open the Pak-Iran border at Taftan, Balochistan were genuine.

The minister told him that the Pakistanis, who had gone to Iran, had started gathering at the Taftan border to return to Pakistan.

He told the chief minister that had the Taftan border been kept closed for a longer period of time, these people taking benefit of the porous border between the two countries would have taken other routes to reach Pakistan, therefore it had been decided to open the border.

Soon after finishing his talk with the federal interior minister, Sindh CM talked to the chief minister of Balochistan, and discussed with him the issue of dealing with the Pakistanis coming back via Taftan border.

When the Balochsitan chief minister told his counterpart from Sindh that 7,000 to 8,000 Pakistanis were presently gathered at the border, the chief minister said that they must be kept in quarantine for the period the experts/doctors were suggesting. The Balochistan chief minister said that his government was making necessary arrangements to keep these passengers in quarantine at the border and in the nearby areas.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah requested his counterpart to gather the data of all these passengers coming back from Iran and share the same with Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governments for necessary action. They both agreed to share the data through their respective chief secretaries.

Taskforce meeting

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was told at the meeting that of 557 people from Karachi who had gone to Iran, the government had managed to establish contact with 466 of them while the remaining had either not returned yet or their houses were locked or had given wrong addresses.

The chief minister directed the commissioners to ensure opening of deputy commissioners’ offices/district control rooms even on holidays so that the suspected patients and other people could be helped accordingly.

The chief minister also directed the health department to keep checking the passengers who had returned.

The chief minister was told that the PDMA had received 2,000 masks and had sent a requisition for one million more. Murad also issued directives for ensuring availability of masks in markets at affordable prices.

Suspected patients

The chief minister was told that all 466 cases, with whom the authorities had managed to have a contact, were so far clear.

The chief minister was told that the control room established at the commissioner’s office received 18 calls during the last 48 hours.

The queries made on the phone calls were about non-availability of face masks, precautionary measures regarding coronavirus, testing facility for Corona Virus infection and treatment facility for Corona Virus infection.

District Control Rooms: The meeting was told that the district control rooms have also been established in all the districts of the city. They are District West 021-99333175, 021-99333176. District East 021-99230918 (Day) 021-34835504 (Night). District Malir 021-99333788, District Central 021-99260049, 021-36429145. District Korangi 021-99333926

Way forward: The chief minister directed Health Department to ensure round-the-clock presence of Rapid Response Teams in districts and on all ports of entry, especially the Airport. He also directed PDMA to ensure procurement and availability of at least one million safety masks.

Meanwhile, during a presser on Friday, National Institute of Child Health (NICH) head Dr Jamal Raza on Friday said that the coronavirus is not a killer virus and most of the deaths from it were suffered by those aging above 80 years. “Over 83,000 coronavirus cases are reported globally and most of the aged people who died from it were already suffering from other health issues,” he said.

“The death rate among people aged between 25 to 40 years is 0.2 percent,” he said.

The NICH head said that children not suffering from the influenza symptoms could go to schools. However, he advised against sending children suffering from flu, fever and cough to school.

He further said that not everybody needs to wear a mask to avoid contracting the virus. “Only those who already suffered from the virus and those coming in contact with them need to wear masks,” Dr Jamal Raza said.

He advised people to properly wash handsat regular intervals and adopt all preventive measures to remain safe from contracting the virus.