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Cases of coronavirus variant ‘B1135’ reported in Karachi: Pechuho

KARACHI: The number of new cases of Covid-19 in Sindh continued to rise during the last seven days amid the ongoing third wave of the pandemic.

During a meeting of the province’s Covid-19 task force, presided by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, the attendees were informed that the positivity rate was recorded at 10.75 per cent in Karachi, 20 per cent in Hyderabad, 9.48 per cent in Sukkur and around 2.79 per cent in other districts from April 22 to 28.

Provincial Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho, while briefing the meeting, said that at least 101 patients have died of Covid-19 since April 21.

She added that around 50 per cent of the ICU beds are occupied across the province. The health minister further said that around 454 ventilators are vacant for future use in medical facilities and out of 1,872 beds with oxygen, 343 are occupied while 1,529 are vacant. The minister also revealed that there is no shortage of oxygen in the province.

Dr Pechuho said that along with the UK variant, a variant ‘B1135’ has also been detected in the coronavirus cases reported in Karachi. The minister said that out of 22 coronavirus cases that were investigated, the UK variant was confirmed in 18 cases, while the B1135 variant was confirmed in two cases.

She regretted that despite launching a request with the government several times, the federation did not quarantine the passengers coming from the UK. The provincial minister feared that the new variant can rapidly spread in Sindh, especially Karachi.

She noted that inter-city bus services will be shut down from Friday to curb the spread of the virus till May 30. Pechucho reiterated the need for implementation of coronavirus protocols and said that people should wear masks, maintain social distance and be careful.

Addressing the meeting, CM Murad lamented the current situation and pressed for the need for strict measures to contain the spread of the virus.

He directed the Sindh Police’s inspector general, Rangers’ director general and Karachi commissioner to ensure that businesses are only operated during the allowed hours, from 6:00am to 6:00pm. He also formed a committee, comprising provincial ministers Nasir Shah, Saeed Ghani and Owais Shah, to enforce measures after taking traders and transporters into confidence.

“In order to prevent lockdown, the public will have to comply with the SOPs and government’s directives,” the chief minister maintained.

Murad was informed that a few private offices are not complying with the SOPs and not reducing staff to 20 per cent as per the instructions. He then directed the Karachi commissioner to seal all such private offices.

The meeting was further informed that inter-district bus transport will be banned from Friday. The chief minister also directed to ensure strict compliance of SOPs in inter-city bus transport.

The chief minister also directed the health department to supervise the facilities of all the hospitals on a daily basis.

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