Sat, 23 Jan 2021

Islamabad [Pakistan], Mar 25 (ANI): Nearly a month after reporting its first positive case of the novel coronavirus, Pakistan's nation-wide tally of positive cases surged past 1,000 on Wednesday leaving people of the country to deal with a mounting crisis.

Pakistan has reported 1,067 cases as on Wednesday with Sindh province the worst affected with 413 cases followed by 312 cases in Punjab province and 119 in Balochistan.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Sunday announced that a lockdown will be imposed throughout the province starting midnight for the next 15 days in order to control the spread of coronavirus.

The statement from the Sindh government's home department laid down the fine details of the lockdown. Sindh has imposed a complete lockdown in the province despite Prime Minister Imran Khan's reluctance to call for a nationwide lockdown.

The statement read, "There shall be a complete ban on movement of people including Intercity or Interprovincial travel or gatherings of any kind for social, religious or any other purpose at any place, public or private, including all offices, public or private situated within the territorial limits of the province of Sindh."The Sindh Chief Minister has also approved the purchase of 290 ventilators, 3.2 million items of personal protective equipment and 29 portable X-ray machines to deal with the coronavirus situation in the province.

The chief minister has also approved the purchase of 100 rapid kit antigen test machines, which can be used to test for coronavirus from China as Sindh scrambles to save lives and contain the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan said that imposing a national lockdown would be damaging for the country's economy, adding that it was not possible to "rationally judge the repercussions of decisions taken out of fear and panic".

In a televised message, Khan said that the country will not be put under the full-lockdown as it would harm the population living under the poverty line despite cases surging at a fast pace.

"Sindh (government) believed that (they) should go beyond that. The 18th Amendment is in place and provinces are free to make their own decisions. The Centre and I were of the opinion that we should not go as far as Sindh at the time. But then there was pressure from the media [...] Under that pressure, KP, Punjab, and Balochistan also imposed incremental lockdown," the Prime Minister said.

He told the parliamentary leaders that until yesterday, out of the 900 coronavirus cases reported in Pakistan, only 153 were locally transmitted.

Khan also told the parliamentary leaders that the country does not have any imported case of the novel coronavirus due to the government's "tough but good" decision of not bringing back students stranded in Wuhan, the epicentre of the global pandemic.

Meanwhile, chaos swept across Sindh as nobody from the port to manufacturers and industry, transport and tech, has been spared from the fall-out of the coronavirus in the country.

Textile exporters from the city of Karachi lobbied the provincial authorities as well as federal for permission to be allowed to finish processing those orders that are already in the pipeline and which have not been cancelled or postponed.

A full lockdown in Sindh and partial lockdowns in other provinces have hurt the daily-wage labourers the most, with no work other than essential services taking place anywhere. They are living in a condition worse than hand to mouth.

Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) also took several decisions to enforce a virtual lockdown in the territory to save its inhabitants from the looming novel coronavirus threat.

Sindh remains worst affected with 413 cases followed by Punjab with 312 cases, 121 cases in Balochistan, 82 in Gilgit-Baltistan and PoK, 82 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 16 in Islamabad. (ANI)

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