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March 29, 2020

Nasir Hussain Shah asks federal govt to form strategy with provinces for COVID-19


March 29, 2020

Sindh Information and Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah has asked the federal government to issue a uniform health advisory for all the provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir so that the entire country can stand united against the COVID-19 threat.

According to a statement issued on Saturday, Shah said the federal government should hold consultations with all the federating units regarding the pandemic so that a joint strategy can be made. “We can fight the spread of coronavirus more effectively if we are together,” he said.

The provincial information minister stated that the Sindh government had already issued a helpline number on which anyone, including journalists, could contact any time if they felt that they must undergo a test for coronavirus. He said anyone making a call to the helpline service would be contacted by the government functionaries for the test.

Paying tribute to the health professionals, including doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff, he said they were at risk of contracting the viral disease as they had to take care of the COVID-19 patients.

We have to make sure that the medical staff are provided with all the precautionary tools before they examine the people affected by coronavirus, Shah said.

Speaking about the drastic measures adopted by the Sindh government to control the spread of COVID-19, the information minister said that although it was an extremely difficult decision to ban the congregational prayers, including the Friday prayers, but the government had been left with no other choice. He added that the decision was taken after consulting the clerics of all the schools of thought.

Maintaining social distancing is imperative to contain coronavirus, he said, adding that restricting the number of people in congregational prayers was done to help achieve social distancing. He claimed that the federal minister for religious affairs, Noorul Haq Qadri, was also on board before taking the decision.

The information clarified that the new directives concerning the prayers did not impose any ban on the calls for prayers, however, only the staff of the mosques maximum up to five people could offer prayers at the mosques.

Shah thanked all the Ulema for endorsing the difficult decision of the Sindh government. He said that in order to ensure social distancing, the lockdown timings had also been increased and now all the shops, including those of groceries, vegetables, fruits and dairy products, would now be shut down at 5pm instead of 8pm till the situation improved.

He said the movement of people engaged in delivering essential services had not been restricted since the day one of the lockdown. After an announcement made by the prime minister about the restoration of goods’ transport, the issue would be cleared, he added.

Shah also cited a recent report issued by the World Health Organisation, in which the global health body had appreciated the measures adopted by the Sindh government to control the spread of coronavirus.

The information minister said the Sindh government was also trying to ensure that the patients of thalassaemia are not affected due to the lockdown. They are being taken care of by the government, he maintained.

He said that funds as well as a a mechanism for providing rations to the needy people had also been devised and with the help of welfare organisations, those in need of food would be approached quickly by the government. Besides, quarantine centres had also been set up with the help of the Pakistan Army in various districts of the province, including over-a-1,000-bed facility at the Karachi Expo Centre, he said.

Shah added that quarantine centres were also being set up at private hospitals and hotels of the city as well in other areas of the province.