Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday once again called for the provincial and federal governments to get on the same page to tackle challenges arising out of the coronavirus epidemic in the country.
“During our meeting with the federal government yesterday, we asked for a uniform policy to deal with the situation,” Shah said while addressing a press conference in Karachi.
“It was decided in yesterday’s meeting that the lockdown in the country would be extended for 14 days. All the provinces were unanimous in the decision that the lockdown should be extended” he said.
The chief minister added that there were some issues, however, that the provinces and the federal government did not agree on.
“Some provinces and the federal government agreed that some essential workplaces should reopen. We did not agree to open shops for barbers, plumbers, electricians etc,” he said.
“We did, however, agree that plumbers and electricians — those involved in travelling to homes to provide services — be allowed, provided they are following the SOPs issued by the government,” he said.
“We all agreed to restart the automobile sector and domestic flights with the implementation of decided SOPs. We, however, suggested that the federal government wait for another two weeks before resuming domestic flight operations,” he said.
We also agreed on the reopening of export-related industries, he added.
“In light of recent numbers, there may be a need for stricter implementation of the lockdown in the coming days. We have told the federal government about imposing strict measures,” he said.
“We cannot understand the need to open the construction sector at the moment,” Shah said, referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision in this regard.
“On the prime minister’s directives, the provincial governments will open construction sites after ensuring SOPs are being followed,” he said. “Those workers aged more than 55 years will not be allowed to enter construction sites as per the guidelines. Workers will work in different shifts to ensure that no workplace is overcrowded at any time of the day.”
Each deputy commissioner is responsible for making sure that SOPs are being followed, he noted.
Speaking about an announcement by religious leaders and traders that they would no longer abide by lockdown guidelines, the chief minister said: “We will facilitate ulema and traders in this regard by meeting them and keeping them in the loop for all discussions. I would like to thank the ulema and traders for cooperating with us [so far].”
“I would also request everyone to cooperate and extend their support by staying at home for the next two weeks. I repeat: please be careful with the elderly people in your family. For their safety, limit your interactions with them and avoid exposing them to the virus,” he said.
Responding to criticism regarding the cordoning off of some areas of Karachi to stem the spread of the virus, Shah said the provincial government was unnecessarily targeted for taking such extreme measures.
“I would like to apologise for the confusion created by the numbers and outdated district information. We are trying our level best to take measures with the information we have in hand.”