KARACHI: The Provincial Task Force on Coronavirus (Sindh) has decided to resume educational, business, and social activities all over the province from September 15, if the coronavirus pandemic situation does not deteriorate.
According to a press release, the decision was proposed by the National Coordination Committee, but the provincial government decided to review the situation in the first week of next month to go ahead with the plan.
Shah said that in the first week of September “we will sit again to review the situation and decide the opening of the social, business and educational activities”.
“Once it is allowed, the home department would issue notification of the opening of the activities and announce SOPs,” he said.
The meeting was held here on Saturday with Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah in the chair, while provincial ministers, Dr Azra Pechuho, Saeed Ghani, Mukesh Chawla, Nasir Shah, and Murtaza Wahab along with Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IG Sindh Mushtaq Maher, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shahalwani, and Secretary Health Kazim Jatoi were also present.
At the outset of the meeting, the chief minister said that just after the Council of Common Interests meeting, the prime minister had chaired an NCC meeting in Islamabad on August 6.
“The meeting decided all business activities, including education institutions and others must be reopened from September 15. However, it was decided that the provincial governments would review the situation in their task force meetings to take final decisions,” Shah said.
In the meeting, Minister Health Dr Azra Pechuho said that the coronavirus situation has improved and the number of new cases has started declining.
Following this, the chief minister said that during the last 30 days cases have dropped down.
On July 8, around 1,782 new cases were reported and on every successive day the number went down, and finally on August 7, 2020, 487 new cases were reported, he said.
“This doesn’t mean that coronavirus has been eliminated or contained but it teaches us that the virus still exists and we have to learn how to live with it until its vaccine is prepared,” Shah said.
Later on, Secretary Health Kazim Jatoi read out the key recommendations released by the World Health Organisation on the reopening of economic sectors.
- Share best practices.
- Apply lessons learned from countries that are successfully reopening social activities, including business, schools and other services and mitigating the resurgence of COVID-19.
- Sustain political commitment and leadership for national strategies and localised response activities driven by science, data, and experience and engage all sectors in addressing the impact of the pandemic.
- Continue to enhance capacity for public health surveillance, testing and contact tracing.
- Strengthen community engagement, empower individuals and build trust by addressing mis/disinformation and providing clear guidance, rationales and resources for public health measures.
- Engage in the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) accelerator, participate in relevant trials and prepare for safe and effective therapeutic vaccine introduction.
- Maintain essential health services with sufficient funding, supplies and human resources, prepare health systems to cope with resources, prepare health systems to cope with seasonal influenza, other current disease outbreak and natural disasters.
The chief minister decided that the COVID-19 hospitals established at NIPA and University Road would continue to function and would be strengthened.
He also directed the Sindh health minister to review the requirements of the Field Isolation Centre at the Expo Centre.
The chief minister also sought the opinion of leading doctors in the meeting about the resumption of social, educational, and business activities.
The chief minister said that business activities and restaurants would be allowed to function up to 9pm.
“This may be enhanced on weekends,” he said, adding that “we have to change our behaviours” by starting the day early in the morning and ending it latest by 10pm.
Shah thanked all the members of the taskforce for their valuable input under which decisions were taken.
“Our decisions were so accurate and workable that other provinces followed them,” he said, and added, “Inshallah we will take final decisions of opening the activities together”.