KARACHI: With the country facing its second wave of the pandemic, the Sindh government tightened restrictions on Friday as 579 more coronavirus infections were confirmed in Sindh, along with three more fatalities.
At a meeting of the provincial coronavirus taskforce on Friday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah ordered the health department to increase daily testing, pointed out that the virus positivity rate has steadily increased in the past week, standing at 5.9 per cent on the day.
“We can’t contain the virus until people make the SOPs part of their lives,” said Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, urging people to comply. “Otherwise, I will have no option but to impose [more] restrictions.”
Meanwhile, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani announced a fine of Rs 500 for those found without masks in public. Legal action will also be taken against owners of establishments – commercial and private – where SOPs are ignored.
Later in the day, the provincial government issued a notification reinforcing many of the rules that were mandated earlier this year, though no closures or lockdowns have been announced.
According to the notification, it is mandatory for all individuals to wear masks in public. Citizens are instructed to ensure distancing and all establishments have been directed to make appropriate measures to ensure this too.
The Sindh government has also insisted on frequent washing of hands or using hand sanitisers.
Besides, it stressed yet again that citizens avoid crowded and closed spaces, urging them to avoid going out as much as possible.
The essential measures insisted upon by the government include proper ventilation in offices and workplaces, special precautions for the elderly and those with chronic diseases, and sufficient arrangements to disinfect frequently used items and places.
Fines and closures
Along with individual responsibility, the management and owners of “organisations, offices, workplaces, factories, shops, restaurants, hotels, manufacturing units and for that matter any place open for public and likely to have gathering of persons, including religious places, are required to ensure following of SOPs within their premises.”
Immediate action will be taken against those responsible for violations, while fines and closures may be imposed, the notification added.
Urging citizens to avoid public places unless it is for work or medical needs, the Sindh government prohibited people traveling in groups unless there is a distance of over three feet between them. Further, no more than two people are permitted in a car, with a third attendant allowed only if a sick person is being driven.
Furthermore, any person experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, dry cough or body aches should immediately seek medical advice and refrain from entering public or closed premises, states the notification.
All workplaces have been asked to ensure that notices showing the virus symptoms and mandated precautionary measures are on display.
Establishments are to ensure the use of thermal guns at entrance points, barring entry to persons with flu-like symptoms or fever.
The notification urges managements to limit people onsite with only essential staff coming in and others being shifted to remote working models. Employees over the age of 55 years may not be called onsite, according to the notification, which also urges workstations be modified or working hours be staggered to have fewer employees on the premises.
Along with this, managements and owners are expected to ensure distancing between all workers, as well as frequent disinfecting of workstations and frequently used items. They are also to ensure proper ventilation.
It is pertinent to note that the Sindh education minister has also recently warned that schools may be shut down again, though no such decision has yet been made.