Thursday Mar 19 2020
Web Desk

Sindh govt to provide 2 million ration bags to underprivileged as province battles COVID-19 outbreak

Web Desk

KARACHI: The provincial government has decided to provide two million ration bags to the underprivileged people of the coronavirus-hit province where at least 213 have tested positive so far.

The decision to distribute ration bags, with the help of Corps-5, Rangers, and NGOs, was made during a high-level meeting with Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah at the Chief Minister House on Thursday. It is aimed at ensuring continued access to square meals for the needy.

CM Shah, alongside Corps Commander Karachi Lt Gen Humayun Aziz, also announced the constitution of a committee under Education and Labour Minister Saeed Ghani.

The committee — comprising Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shalwani, Additional Secretary Health Aleem Lashari, as well as Corps-5 Brigadier Sami and two of his team members — would work on "the type 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 they will be supplied all over Sindh. The quality of food items and their quantity as agreed by the committee would be ensured," the statement read.

Philanthropists, NGOs consulted for guidance

It was decided that the ration bag would have a one-month food supply. It was also decided that the house where ration bags would be supplied would be marked as 'supplied' so that duplication could be avoided.

"A helpline would be set up where deserving people would get themselves registered for ration bags which will be supplied after necessary verification," noted the statement.

During the meeting, Lt Gen Aziz also lauded the Sindh government's timely efforts and underscored the need to provide rations to daily wagers and poor people to make sure their daily food requirement was not impacted.

CM Shah apprised the participants of his meetings with philanthropists, as well as NGOs, such as Edhi and Saylani, from whom he sought help and guidance in preparing ration bags and developing a mechanism to distribute them to the needy and deserving people.

"With the closure of malls [and] restaurants — or what it is being termed as a partial lock-down — we have tried to slow down the spread [of the coronavirus] so that necessary arrangements for establishing isolation centres and field hospitals could be made accordingly,” he said.

Converting Expo Centre into isolation facility

It was also decided during the meeting that a 10,000-bed isolation centre and field hospital would be established at Karachi's Expo Centre with the support of Corps 5, with Commissioner Shalwani to coordinate with the Pakistan Army.

One of the Expo Centre's hall would be converted into an isolation centre during the first phase, following which more would be set up. The availability of beds, medicines, necessary and equipment, as well as doctors and paramedical staff, would be ensured in the first hall.

Shah, the chief minister, said he had made available more than 16,000 swabs/Viral Transport Media (VTM) and 13,000 kits to test the novel coronavirus in the province. However, "we will have to enhance our testing capacity, which is limited to only 600,” he said.

Apart from Lt Gen Aziz, Brig Sami, and Ghani, other participants in the meeting included Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Director-General Rangers Maj Gen Omar Bukhari, Inspector-General of Police for Sindh Mushtaq Mehar, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, and Focal Person Dr MB Raja Dharejo.