There are contradictory news emerging about the ongoing lockdown in Sindh. The provincial chief minister is hinting at extending and tightening the lockdown beyond April 14, while some reports suggest that the lockdown could be eased.
The Sindh government is widely expected to issue relaxation in the lockdown in several phases. Though many people would hope that business activities are resumed, the government is reluctant to reopen shopping centres and markets despite stiff opposition from the trader’s community. Schools and educational institutions are expected to resume in the last phase.
As the lockdown enters the third week, many people are facing the consequences of a prolonged stay at home creating even more mental stress and agony. It is unsure how long this could continue as the number of coronavirus cases are rising steadily. Companies have a seen a plunge in productivity and students have lost an entire academic year but the main issue is about the economy.
Many people are not taking the virus seriously and are taking unnecessary trips outside. There were confrontations with police as large congregations for Friday prayers are being held. The lack of public awareness is further aggravating the situation. In a rather devastating case, seven members of the same family in Karachi contracted the virus after just one family member stepped out and the virus spread among the entire family.
The federal government has expressed fears that the number of cases could surge to 50,000 by end of this month. The Sindh government has been told to prepare for the worst-case scenario and under such circumstances, there would be no other option than to impose a complete lockdown. The health sector is already struggling and could be on the brink under the circumstances.
Sindh was the first province to impose a lockdown and others followed suit. While the provincial government was praised for the step, it has not done enough to offset the adverse consequences of the lockdown. The provision of food supplies to the needy has been halted and the confrontation with the federal government is affected coordination. There is a need for a uniform and coherent strategy against the pandemic.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has visited Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar – the three provincial capitals – to oversee arrangements against the coronavirus crisis. He should perhaps visit Karachi to show that the government supports the people of the city as it seems to be one of the worst affected by the pandemic.
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