KARACHI: The government of Sindh would have to take action by itself if Pakistan’s nerve centre to monitor the coronavirus situation failed to heed its suggestion to close inter-provincial transport to curb rising COVID-19 cases, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said Thursday.
Addressing an event here at Karachi’s Sindh Institute of Animal Health, CM Shah questioned the PTI-led federal government’s decision to impose a coronavirus lockdown earlier when it was the one that criticised the move when Sindh went ahead with the plan.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has his own thoughts on lockdowns but in today’s meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), I reminded him of the Sindh government’s initiative on coronavirus lockdown one year ago today on which we were strongly criticised.
“But if it was that bad an idea, why did the federal government and other three provinces follow it later? It wasn’t bad because we are safe today — firstly, due to God’s mercy — and those were the initial steps.
“The decisions we made in the beginning helped us stay safe from the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Sindh chief minister underlined that the PPP-led provincial government had recommended shutting down intercity transport for at least two weeks — which, according to him, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar said the NCOC would consider.
Shah said PM Imran Khan “spoke time and again about how India imposed a curfew and shut down everything and how it was wrong but India had not imposed a curfew”.
“The Indian [government’s] mistake was that it did tell people to return to their homes but hundreds of thousands of people took trains, buses, and public transport to return to their villages and they interacted there and went on to infect their villages.
“We remained safe because we said we need to shut down trains and air travel and now, too, I have given the same recommendation which at the moment hasn’t been rejected but the NCOC said it would consider it. However, if NCOC doesn’t take these steps, we’ll take them ourselves,” he stressed.
Speaking of the coronavirus vaccination campaign, Shah said it should be accelerated and that people of all ages must be registered.
“My second advice was that we’re registering people for vaccination but in the region — no, in the entire world — our country is the lowest in terms of vaccination.
“Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India are all ahead of us … they’re not adequate but they’re 10 times better than us in vaccination, so I advised we need to make our vaccination drive more aggressive,” he added.
The chief minister recommended the government register everyone so that the demand could be gauged. “Even if someone is 20 years old, they too should be registered for the vaccine,” he underlined.
On the other hand, Shah said 237 new cases were reported in Sindh out of the 8,913 tests carried out over the past 24 hours. Of the new infections, 119 were from Karachi, he added.
He noted that while two patients died in the same time period, 108 recovered. Currently, 253 of the 5,028 patients undergoing treatment were in critical condition, he added.