KARACHI: Sindh Minister for Information and Local Government Syed Nasir Hussain Shah has said that in the wake of coronavirus outbreak in the country, a unanimous health advisory should be issued for every province, including Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.
The provincial minister said that the federal government should take all decisions in consultation with other units of the country. “We can fight against the spread of coronavirus more effectively, if we are together”, he said, while addressing a video conference of all the information ministers presided over by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information & Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan.
Nasir Shah said that the Sindh government had already issued a helpline on which anyone including journalists could contact anytime if they felt that they must undergo coronavirus tests. He said that those associated with the health functionaries including doctors, nurses and paramedics were more vulnerable from being affected by the coronavirus.
Speaking about the drastic measures adopted by the Sindh government to control the spread of coronavirus, the minister said that although it was an extremely difficult decision to ban congregation prayers including Friday prayers, but they had been left with no other choice to save people’s lives.
He said the decision was taken only after consulting the clerics and religious scholars from various schools of thought, adding that it was imperative in order to maintain social distancing. He said the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri was on board while taking this decision.
Nasir Shah said that according to the new directives issued by the provincial government, there was no ban on calls for prayers (Azaan), but only the staff of mosques and a maximum of four to five people could offer prayers at mosques. He thanked all clerics for endorsing this tough decision of the Sindh government.
Similarly, in order to ensure social distancing the complete lock down timings had also been increased and now all the shops including that of groceries, vegetables, fruits and dairy shops would now be shut down at 05:00 pm instead of earlier timings of 08:00 pm daily till the situation improved, the Minister added.
The minister said that the people delivering essential services had not been banned since day one of the lockdown. He said the situation would become clearer after the announcement made by the Prime Minister about the restoration of goods transportation.
He said that the World Health Organization had also appreciated the measures adopted by the Sindh government to control the spread of the coronavirus. He said the provincial government was ensuring that Thalassemia patients were not affected during the lockdown.
Nasir Shah said that funds, as well as a mechanism for providing ration to needy people, has been devised and with the help of the welfare organizations those in need would be approached quickly by the government.
Besides, quarantine centres had also been set up with the help of the army in various districts of the province, including a 1000-bed hospital at Expo Centre in Karachi. The minister said that quarantine centres were also being set up in private hospitals and hotels as well.
Speaking on the occasion, SAPM Fridous Ashiq Awan asked all provincial ministers and advisers to name a focal person of their respective province who could be reached for any information regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
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