Hundreds of people line up and wait their turn to receive a dose of vaccine at an Expo or convention centre, in Karachi on July 30, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Karachi: The Sindh government has imposed a partial lockdown in the entire province until August 8, with a special focus on Karachi, to reverse the trend of highly alarming surge in coronavirus cases among the residents of the provincial capital.

“It will not be a complete lockdown as was imposed in the province last year as there will be a ‘Positive’ list containing the names of the essential services, institutions, and industries as except them rest all the things will remain closed during this period,” said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at a press conference on Friday.

He said effective measures were required to be taken against the spread of Delta variant as the COVID-19 positivity ratio in Karachi was over 25 per cent.

He said that one of the leading private hospitals in the city dealing with the coronavirus cases had reported that all the COVID-19 cases detected by its lab were that of the most lethal Delta variant.

He said the hospitals in the city would run out of their capacity in a couple of days if the surge of COVID-19 cases goes unchecked.

Shah said that a three-pronged strategy, including the imposition of partial lockdown, expansion of hospital facilities and vaccination drive was being adopted.

He appealed to the citizens to cooperate with the government to abide by the restrictions. “Imposition of the lockdown is the last resort against the spread of lethal infectious diseases as I would desire that the option of lockdown is not exercised next time,” Shah said.

He clarified the decision was taken on the advice of senior health professionals.

He said he had telephoned the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan, and Federal Planning and Development Minister, Asad Umar, to take them into confidence about the decision to impose the lockdown in Sindh.

Health facilities, food industries, fuel stations, export-oriented industries, utility and municipal services’ agencies are exempt from the restrictions. Restaurants and eateries will be allowed only home delivery services.

Educational institutions will remain closed while all examinations are also being deferred by one week. Only a small number of public transport services will remain in operation to facilitate the vaccination drive.

The food retail stores will remain open till 6pm daily while the entire retail sector of the province will remain closed.

Shah said the Pakistan Stock Exchange, banks and Karachi Port didn’t come under the domain of the Sindh government but the request would be sent to the relevant federal authorities to allow operations of these essential services with a minimum number of human resources.