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Sindh rules out closing schools despite rising coronavirus cases


Students wearing facemasks are on their way to school in Karachi. — AFP/File
Students wearing facemasks are on their way to school in Karachi. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Schools and other educational institutions in Sindh will remain open despite a continuous surge in coronavirus cases, the Provincial Task Force on coronavirus decided Saturday.

The chief minister had convened a meeting of the COVID-19 body to review the rising coronavirus cases across the province, especially Karachi, as the positivity ratio in the port city reached 35.30% in the last 24 hours.

CM Murad Ali Shah chaired the meeting attended by members of the COVID-19 body, the Sindh Health Department, and health experts.

CM Shah, during the meeting, said the masses’ refusal to follow coronavirus SOPs has led to a rise in coronavirus cases, but if the people cooperate with the administration, we can control the fifth wave.

For now, we have made it mandatory for people to wear masks in public spaces, the chief minister said, noting that the task force will meet again in a few days, review the cases, and take further decisions.

The chief minister stated that officials who do not wear masks will face a fine. It was proposed to deduct one day’s wage from the pay of any government employee who does not wear a mask on the workplace.

Decisions taken:

– Educational activities in the province will continue as usual.

– All hospitals, both public and private, will be surveyed for capacity and need.

– Wearing a mask in wedding halls, markets, and public places will be mandatory.

– Food will be distributed in boxes during the wedding ceremonies.

– Only vaccinated individuals will be allowed in the markets, with administration checking vaccination card records.

– Restaurants that do not comply with COVID-19 SOPs will face charges.

– Intensifying immunisation campaigns throughout the province .

– Careful adhere to SOPs.

Alarming rise in COVID-19 cases

Sharing a report on the COVID-19 situation, CM Shah said Friday 23 of 24 samples were found to be of the Omicron variant in Karachi when they were analysed through Next Genome Sequencing and Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) at Karachi’s Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) and Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH).

He maintained so far, 430 infections of the Omicron variant have been detected in Karachi, adding that 3,089 new cases of COVID-19 were reported when 15,719 tests were conducted in Sindh.

The chief minister said out of 3,089 new cases, 2,846 have been detected from Karachi.

Hyderabad has reported 104 cases, Shaheed Benazirabad 25, Sujawal 22, Naushahroferoze 19, Matiari 15, Mirpurkhas 14, Tando Allahyar 11, Tharparkar eight, Badin and Sanghar seven each, Larkana six, Umerkot five, Dadu and Ghotki four each, Sukkur three, Kashmore and Tando Muhammad Khan two each, Jacobabad and Jamshoro one each.

Meanwhile, federal health officials told Geo News that they expected the situation in Karachi to change in the coming week as the positivity ratio might hit 50%, leading to an increase in hospitalisations.

The officials also said that cases were expected to shoot up to 6,000.

Pakistan records highest infections since August 25

Meanwhile, Pakistan reported the highest number of cases — 4,286 — since August 25, 2021, in the last 24 hours, the National Command and Operation’s Centre (NCOC) data showed Saturday morning, as compared to 3,567 a day earlier.

The positivity ratio also shot up to 8.16%, the highest since August 11, when 52,522 tests were conducted across the country, according to the NCOC data.



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