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March 19, 2020

Fighting against Covid-19: Sindh govt surpasses everyone with exceptional performance

Top Story

March 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in Sindh, which is often profoundly accused of poor performance, has this time beaten all of its provincial counterparts as well as the federal administration in dealing with the deep crisis created by the spread of the coronavirus.

The Sindh government virtually led the provinces and the federation in the campaign and the result is that there has not been a single death so far caused by the pandemic in that federating unit. Rather, some patients have been relieved from hospitals after they recovered.

The provincial administration led by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah acted timely, took essential steps on the dot and put in action a vibrant set of team. At the same time, it introduced and continued the public awareness drive so that people at large know how to avoid the coronavirus.

There has been no day over the past few weeks when the first batch of pilgrims from Iran arrived in Karachi when the chief minister has not been on the move, presenting himself as the most active provincial head. However, one reason for his hyper engagements is that the patients of coronavirus first hit that part ofPakistan, which is in Sindh. Authorities generally remain lax and lethargic even when the crisis has gripped their area of jurisdiction and reached their doorstep. The Sindh government acted totally differently without raising any whining and wailing over lack of resources.

The chief minister took the lead in every aspect at this time of emergency, leaving no option for the other provinces to follow suit. Even the federal government has been sluggish and the emphasis of its leaders has as usual been more on tweets, issuing statements and addressing pressers, giving the impression that this way they will fight the coronavirus, than taking practical steps.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has hardly been seen anywhere in tackling the menace when it has reached his province. He has lived up to his reputation in term of performance that he is showing over the past 19 months. Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Jamal is no different.

The Sindh government has decided to establish four more isolation centres, based on the model of the one set up in Sukkur, across the province. Simultaneously, the chief minister has directed the concerned officials to immediately make the newly contrasted hospitals in all districts of Sindh functional, so as to deal with the coronavirus outbreak effectively.

The provincial administration has ordered all union councils to purchase anti-septic soaps worth Rs100000 and distribute them among the citizens. The order has been issued to raise awareness about health and hygiene.

The Sindh government has taken several steps before the provinces and federal government followed them. It imposed medical emergency to provide free tests.

It announced to give food ration to deserving people, admitted in isolation wards. It ordered closure of all markets, eateries and other public places including shrines, swimming pools, gyms etc. to prevent people-to-people transmission of virus. It has made necessary arrangements for developing quarantine facility outside the immigration section in 25 cubicles at Karachi airport. It ordered closure of educational institutions.

The Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre has constituted an 18-member Rapid Response Team to prepare against the coronavirus. The Sindh government formed a task force on coronavirus, a day after Pakistan confirmed its first two cases, which meets on a daily basis to review everything being done and take decision on Covid-19 related issues. It has asked the families which have recently visited Iran to not send their children to schools. It directed all hospitals to share the record of patients showing symptoms of pneumonia so that further medical investigations can be done to contain coronavirus.

The Sindh chief minister frequently took to the Twitter to give information about his activities on coping with the coronavirus. He wrote that quarantine at borders is the constitutional responsibility of the federal government. It is most unfortunate that the Balochistan government was expected to carry out quarantine, with literally zero help from the Pakistan government. Crisis cannot be averted until everyone acts responsibly.

Murad Ali Shah also visited Indus Health Network Lab where samples of majority of passengers from Taftan are being tested. He also tweeted that the passengers, who were quarantined in Taftan, have been quarantined again by the Sindh government in Sukkur in the biggest isolation facility. All their samples have been taken which are being currently processed in Karachi.

The Sindh government, under an arrangement with Indus hospital, has imported 10,000 Covid-19 testing kits. Each passenger is screened at the Karachi airport. Anyone found with symptoms is checked by a second team and depending on severity is quarantined/tested. All passengers’ contacts are taken and given an advisory to call the Sindh government’s dedicated numbers if there are any symptoms in next 2 weeks. The health department follows up on passengers who have mild symptoms at the airport but not serious enough to quarantine/test.

The chief minister held media briefings on coronavirus with experts Dr. Faisal Mahmoud Head of Infectious disease Aga Khan University Hospital and Dr. Bari of Indus Hospital. Dr. Bari gave the facts of the current situation and how best to manage it.