Sunday Aug 08 2021
Web Desk

Sindh announces revised COVID-19 curbs starting August 9

Web Desk
Police officials patrol at Empress Market to see to the implementation of restrictions imposed as a preventive measure to curb the spread of coronavirus in Karachi. — APP
Police officials patrol at Empress Market to see to the implementation of restrictions imposed as a preventive measure to curb the spread of coronavirus in Karachi. — APP

The Sindh government, bringing an end to a nine-day lockdown, on Sunday announced revised COVID-19 restrictions for the province, as the country battles the fourth wave of the pandemic.

The new restrictions are set to take effect on Monday, August 9, and will last till August 31.

Under the revised curbs, the following will apply:

  • Market and business activities may continue till 8pm. This includes standalone grocery stores, fish and meat shops, vegetable and fruit vendors, e-commerce, and bakeries.
  • Essential services allowed to open longer. These include pharmacies, medical facilities, vaccination centres, petrol pumps, milk shops, and tandoors.
  • Businesses to remain closed on Fridays and Sundays.
  • Indoor dining will not be allowed. 
  • Outdoor dining is allowed for a maximum of 300 people till 10pm under strict coronavirus safety precautions.
  • Takeaway and home delivery are allowed 24/7, subject to strict adherence to safety measures with staff and delivery personnel fully vaccinated.
  • Indoor weddings banned. 
  • Outdoor weddings allowed with a maximum of 300 guests till 10pm with strict enforcement of safety protocols.
  • Shrines to remain closed.
  • Cinemas to remain closed.
  • Indoor gatherings, including cultural, musical, religious events prohibited. 
  • Outdoor gatherings allowed for a maximum of 300 guests with strict enforcement of safety protocols.
  • Contact sports banned.
  • Gyms to allow only vaccinated individuals.
  • Offices to only call 50% staff to work.
  • Public transport to run on sanctioned routes with 50% occupancy and staff fully vaccinated. Snacks are not allowed onboard the vehicles.
  • Railway services to continue with 50% occupancy, subject to enforcement of strict safety protocols and vaccination of all staff.
  • Amusement parks, swimming pools and water sports facilities to remain closed.
  • Public parks to remain open subject to the following of safety measures.
  • Tourism activities to only be allowed for vaccinated individuals.
  • Domestic airlines to no longer serve meals or snacks.
  • Wearing of masks compulsory at all public places.

'Stricter lockdown to be enforced if cases rise'

PPP leader Nasir Hussain Shah, speaking on Geo News programme "Naya Pakistan" said that if cases continue to rise, the provincial government will impose a partial lockdown once more.

He claimed that due to the nine-day lockdown period, a drop in cases has been witnessed.

Shah regretted that the provincial government, "instead of being supported, is criticised".

He said that all decisions taken by Sindh were made keeping in view recommendations by the National Command and Operation Centre.

The PPP leader said that if need be, a stricter lockdown will be enforced, adding that it was a tough task for the government to get the public to strictly follow coronavirus safety protocols.

Speaking of Muharram, which may begin on Tuesday, he said that indoor majalis will be allowed, subject to social distancing and wearing of masks.

School reopening and inter exams

Earlier in the day, the Sindh education minister Sardar Ali Shah announced that schools in the province will remain closed till August 19.

Shah said the decision had been taken to facilitate students.

He said that while the provincial government will monitor the coronavirus situation in 10 days till August 19, schools will remain closed as students have difficulties commuting due to Muharram processions.

"Processions are taken out across the province from Muharram 7, which causes problems for students," he said. 

MPA Ismail Rahu, meanwhile, said that intermediate exams will resume on August 10.

"Students will not be allowed to carry their mobile phones inside the exam centres," he said, adding that teachers and exam staff will also not be allowed to bring cell phones inside the centre.

Rahu said that the government will not allow cheating at any cost. 

Sindh's coronavirus situation

Meanwhile, Sindh's coronavirus situation remains worrisome.

According to a statement from Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, in the last 24 hours, the province reported 26 deaths, lifting the overall total to 6,215 in the province, and 1,655 new cases, taking the caseload to 400,383.

The new infections emerged after 17,625 tests were conducted, translating to a 9.4% positivity ratio.

Currently 47,752 patients are under treatment, of which 46,216 are in home isolation, 45 at isolation centers and 1,491 at different hospitals. 

According to Shah, the condition of 1,308 patients is critical, including 107 that have been put on ventilators.

According to the statement, out of 1,655 new cases, 1,127 were detected from Karachi, including 386 from East, 232 South, 217 Central, 146 Korangi, 81 Malir and 65 West districts. 

Hyderabad has 81, Jamshoro 54, Shaheed Benazirabad 42, Badin 39, Sanghar 34, Tharparkar 31, Dadu 29, Thatta 25, Mirpurkhas, Sujawal and Tando Allahyar 22 each, Khairpur 21, Matiari 19, NausheroFeroze 18, Tando Muhammad Khan and Umerkot 12 each, Ghotki five, Kashmore four, and Sukkur two. 

According to vaccination data provided in the statement, 8,018,927 vaccines have administered thus far, which means 23.41% of the vaccine eligible population are immunised.

NCOC announces end to lockdown

Although a formal announcement was made today regarding revised restrictions Monday onwards, the NCOC  had issued  statement a day earlier saying Sindh will lift its lockdown on August 9.

The statement was issued following a joint session which was chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, and attended by Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Gen Hamood and other team members from NCOC.

The coronavirus situation in Sindh, particularly in Karachi, "was discussed at length", according to the statement.

It said that a need for "better coordination" and an "enhanced interaction at all levels" was emphasised.

It was decided that Sindh would follow the non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI)- based guidelines the forum had announced for 13 high infection rate cities earlier this week, which include Karachi and Hyderabad.

The forum also recognised the need for a special emphasis on the implementation of safety precautions in view of Muharram and when the lockdown is lifted on August 9.

It was decided that "smart lockdowns" in high disease prevalence areas will be enforced to curb the spread of the virus.