KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to close schools and ban indoor dining among a raft of other snap restrictions across the province over fears the Delta variant could drive a fourth wave of the coronavirus.
The steps were taken during a meeting of the Provincial Coronavirus Taskforce headed by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. Schools are to close from tomorrow (Friday) for students of all classes, except for those taking examinations.
It was also decided to impose a ban on indoor restaurants, amusement parks, water parks, tourist spots, cinemas, gyms and indoor games from tomorrow. The chief minister expressed concern over the worsening Covid-19 situation in Sindh, where the positivity ratio has increased to 7.4 per cent. In Karachi alone, the positivity ratio was more than 17 per cent in the 24 hours leading to Wednesday.
Before the taskforce meeting, CM’s adviser Murtaza Wahab said: “The number of cases has sharply increased because people have failed to follow SOPs which may compel the government to take stricter decisions regarding closures.”
Meanwhile, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government imposed a 10-day restriction on tourism spots in the region in view of the rising number of coronavirus cases, a notification said. The restrictions will remain in place from July 19 to July 29, while tourism-related activities will also remain suspended during these days, the notification said. The move follows the NCOC’s latest data, which showed Pakistan’s daily cases were 1,980, with 24 fatalities.
The development comes a day after the Federal Parliamentary Health Secretary Dr Nausheen Hamid had said Delta variant of the coronavirus — which first emerged in India — was accounting for at least 50 per cent of the total infections in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Dr Atta-Ur-Rehman, the chairperson of the Prime Minister’s National Task Force on Science and Technology, warned on Wednesday that the fourth wave of the coronavirus driven by the Delta variant, “seems more dangerous in comparison to the previous waves”.
Talking to a private news channel, Dr Rehman said the country needs to bolster its mass immunity and vaccination was necessary to stave off a possible fourth wave in the pandemic. He warned the government would be forced to impose major restrictions if people do not follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and not go for vaccination doses.
He warned the public that if they continued neglecting Covid SOPs and were irresponsible, the fourth wave could become more lethal and the government would go for stricter decisions.
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