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Health dept asks Karachi commissioner to implement mask wearing, other SOPs

June 25, 2022

Following a rise in the COVID-19 positivity and increase in number of cases in Karachi, the health authorities in Sindh asked on Friday the commissioners of Karachi and Hyderabad to ensure mandatory wearing of masks at public places and check vaccination cards at shopping malls, shrines and restaurants.

The Covid-19 positivity rate was recorded 15.85 per cent in Karachi on Friday when out of 1,060 samples, 168 tested positive. “The Covid-19 positivity is continuously above 10 per cent in Karachi for last few days, and it requires some immediate measures to be put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. We have asked the commissioners, especially in Karachi, to ensure implementation of standard operating procedures [SOPs], including mandatory wearing of masks at public places,” Sindh Health Director General (DG) Dr Jumman Bahoto told The News.

A letter issued to the Karachi commissioner by the health DG read that the recent increase in Covid-19 cases could partially be attributed to two sub-variants of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 that had been labeled as BA.4 and BA.5.

The commissioner was also asked to ensure that the occupancy of public transport did not exceed 70 per cent of the total capacity. Dr Bahoto explained that the rise in the Covid-19 cases was also discussed during a recent meeting chaired by Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel, which was attended by the health secretaries and DGs from all the provinces. It was decided in that meeting that Sindh should start strict implementation of social distancing and other SOPs.

“Although hospitalisation due to Covid-19 infection is very low and most of the ventilators and beds in the Covid-19 wards are vacant, no death has so far been reported in the current wave but cases are slightly increasing, which needs some attention. We have also recommended reducing number of participants of indoor weddings to 300 and 500 at outdoor settings,” the health DG said.

He maintained that the Karachi commissioner had also been advised to ensure that vaccination cards of people visiting shopping malls, shrines, gyms and restaurants should be checked. “Similarly, we have asked the health officers to implement one patient one attendant policy to reduce load on the healthcare facilities and prevent the spread of infections, especially Covid-19.”

Meanwhile, the authorities in the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad said they were closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation in Karachi and would issue an advisory about wearing masks, social distancing and other SOPs.

“Mandatory wearing of masks during domestic flights is on cards while other measures can also be suggested following further increase in the Covid-19 positivity rate and cases in the country, especially Karachi,” an official of the federal ministry of national health services told The News.

Health experts blame the new sub-variants of the Omicron variant as well as waning immunity against Covid-19 after six months of vaccination and infection, experts for the new wave of infections. They have advised people to get booster doses of the vaccine.