Coronavirus outbreak: Shut railways and industries, Sindh govt asks Centre

The pace of coronavirus transmission will rapidly increase if the cross-country train service continues its operation, Wahab fears

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Sindh Law and Environment Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab. Photo: File

KARACHi: The Sindh Government has asked the federal government to order closure of industries and railway service in the country on an immediate basis to slow down the transmission of the coronavirus epidemic, The News  reported on Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference here at Sindh Assembly on Wednesday, Sindh Law and Environment Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that shutting down of the railway service was of utmost importance to slow down the transmission of the Coronavirus as trains carry thousands of passengers in close confines on a daily basis.

The suggestion from the provincial government for such extreme measures came as the toll in the country witnessed a spike, with Sindh being the worst affected with over 180 confirmed cases. 

Wahab said there was a major risk that the pace of transmission of the coronavirus epidemic would rapidly increase if the cross country train service continued its operation.

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“The best way of rendering support is for the people to self-isolate themselves at homes for a period of 14 days which would help the government and their community in the best manner,” he said. 

He acknowledged that despite the Sindh government’s notification, all eateries and restaurants in the Karachi were not observing the shut down. He appealed to the public to observe closure of businesses as a precautionary measure in their own and the larger public interest. 

He said that the provincial government would direct the divisional commissioners to get the order of closure of the businesses implemented in letter and spirit. 

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"Medical and paramedical staff at the hospitals are doing their best to provide services against the Coronavirus. Efforts have been made to curtail unnecessary movement of people at the health facilities," he noted.

He added that a request was made to Prime Minister Imran Khan to take seriously the issue of the coronavirus epidemic in the country. “We were hopeful of that in the PM’s address on Tuesday but [the address] was not effective as there was no mention of much-needed policy announcements,” said the provincial adviser. 

He said that federal government had so far provided only 200 testing kits to the Sindh government for detecting Coronavirus cases, whereas the provincial government had imported 10,000 such kits on its own.

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Barrister Wahab, who is also the spokesman for the Sindh government, expressed gratitude to eminent social figures, philanthropists, and the charities who contacted the provincial government to offer support against the Coronavirus outbreak. 

He said that three notable social personalities had been made members of a committee which will oversee the affairs of the fund established by the Sindh government to counter the Coronavirus health emergency in the province. 

He said that audit of the fund in question would also be conducted. In a separate statement, Sindh Transport Minister Syed Awais Qadir Shah has also asked the federal government to shut down the railway service on a countrywide basis.

Originally published in The News