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March 23, 2020

In the time of COVID-19 threat, be like this SIM card seller

Pakistan

March 23, 2020

Nadeemullah Butt sells sims at his Kiosk with all precautions. Photo: Oonib Azam/The News

Although non-serious attitude of a large number of people has forced the Sindh government to impose a severe lockdown in the province, there were many organisations and individual workers who had indeed taken a good number of precautionary measures as the news of the COVID-19 rise in the world reached them. One of such prudent and responsible professionals has been a 49-year-old subscriber identity module (SIM) card seller, Nadeem Ullah Butt.

Butt must have likely stopped selling SIM cards now after strict measures announced by the Sindh government but until he carried out his job in recent days, he exhibited remarkable prudence in the wake of the coronavirus threat.

A few days ago, this correspondent found him at his small kiosk under a tree near Al Asif Square in Sohrab Goth where he had been working as a point of sale (PoS) agent of SIM cards.

He shared with The News that he sold at least 60 SIM cards daily due to which he had to take thumb impressions of his customers on a biometric machine. As he heard about the rising COVID-19 cases and came to know that the disease was highly contagious, he started to clean his biometric machine with alcohol swabs after every time he took thumb impressions.

He had several packets of alcohol swabs with him and washed the thumb-pad of the biometric verification machine after every thumb impression he took. Each swab cost him Rs5. Butt, who hails from Kashmir and lives in North Nazimabad Block P, also started to keep a sanitiser at his shop and would disinfect the hands of every customer before and after taking their thump prints.

He told The News that he might not be very educated, but knew how important it was to adopt preventive measures in the time of the COVID-19 outbreak while continuing with his business.

He was selling SIM cards of three cellular mobile phone operator companies. “I got a message from a mobile company, detailing the preventions SIM card sellers should adopt while selling SIM cards,” he said, adding that it was after this message, he got the idea of cleaning his biometric machine “especially, the portion where I take thumb impressions, with an alcohol pad”.

Many people making their way to up-country were in need of an extra SIM card and visited Butt’s kiosk. “I would never want travellers to be infected,” he said. He not only used alcohol pads and sanitisers but also started wearing gloves and a mask as an extra precautionary measure.

“I keep gloves on the entire time I sell SIM cards as a precautionary measure,” he said. By the time, this correspondent ended his conversation with the POS agent, he had been left with only four alcohol pads and was ready to pack up his small stall. “I won’t continue to sell SIM cards after the alcohol strips are finished,” he said.

He also bore the expense of alcohol pads and did not transfer it to the customers. “Allah will be happy, if one safeguards lives of others. Why just to save Rs5 or Rs6 and put our customer’s life at risk?” he said.

Butt advised other SIM card sellers to follow suit and the mobile companies to create more awareness in this regard. He further assured that if the government placed a ban on selling SIM cards, he would discontinue his business. “But let me assure you, no one could get infection from my kiosk,” he remarked with a smile.

A microbiologist, Dr Sadaf, appreciated Butt’s efforts of cleaning the biometric machine with alcohol pads. “If there’s 70 to 90 per cent alcohol in the pad, the virus will surely die,” she said.