Lockdown Diary: People ignore Sindh govt.’s warning

By Shujauddin Qureshi

Today was the first day after the federal as well as provincial Sindh government had notified relaxation in the coronavirus lockdown in Karachi on Tuesday. After approval of the cabinet and National Coordination Committee, the Prime Minister announced to extension of the lockdown in the entire country with relaxation to certain industries and trades including export-oriented and construction industries.

However, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at a press conference on Wednesday announced making the lockdown more stringent, as more cases of coronavirus are reported and deaths are increasing. One can witness that there was a hustle and bustle on the main roads and shopping centres in many areas of Karachi.

As a major thoroughfare of our area, Prof. Ghafoor Ahmed Road in Gulistan-e-Jauhar was still sealed at Jauhar Chowrangi and then at Kamran Chowrangi, so we have to limit our shopping activities between these two landmarks in the area. However, access to the main University Road, a major exit point is still available from side lanes and the main Block 2 road, so one can buy essential items like fruits, vegetables and groceries from the Mosamiyat area very easily.

Today the traffic on the main University Road was more than the previous days of the lockdown, however, a little less than the usual days. As the universities are closed down and other markets and restaurants are still shut the usual hustle was also missing on the main thoroughfares. The shops like hair-cut salons and bakeries have started opening up.

Very startling news was published in today’s daily The News International with the headline “Why are Karachi’s hospitals getting more DOAs, near-death patients?” has created a panic-like situation on social media as the story states that during the last few weeks over 300 patients who were already dead or extremely sick and died on arrival (DOA). The specialists suspected that these were “most probably COVID pneumonia” cases.

“The examination of the X-ray of the deceased woman revealed that there was a large patch on her lungs, which indicated that she was suffering from some kind of lower respiratory tract illness,” revealed the doctor on emergency duty, the story stated.

The story by senior journalist M. Waqar Bhatti has given the impression that such a large number of deaths of DOAs indicates that the virus is causing “unreported” deaths, thus the number of deceased is more than the reported cases by the government. The Director of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Seemi Jamail, however, denied the report.

This fact was also indicated by the Chief Minister in his press conference in the afternoon. According to him known deaths, where the patient tests positive and they die, are so far 41 in Sindh. “There are some deaths we feel are due to Covid-19 but they have not been confirmed,” he stated.

Syed Murad Ali Shah said that he had tried to convince the federal government yesterday not to open certain businesses like barbershops, engineering industries and workshops. He announced that barber shops would remain closed in Sindh and certain industries would be allowed to operate with certain conditions. They have to follow strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with prior permission from the Sindh government.

The Chief Minister made it clear that citizens should refrain from thinking that the lockdown for the next two weeks had been eased. “It is a stricter lockdown. There are just a few exceptions.”

The Sindh government has taken serious measures since the start of the lockdown in the province on 23rd March but there is a lot of resistance from various sections of the society, especially the business community as well as religious leaders.

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