By Rafat Saeed
The Sindh government has ruled out closing educational institutions, a decision that comes amid the ongoing fifth wave of coronavirus in the country.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah chaired the Provincial Task Force at CM House on Saturday where it was decided that educational institutions and markets will remain open.
The meeting also said that authorities will regularly survey all public and private hospitals and take an account of the availability of beds.
The decision comes as Karachi's positivity ratio reached 35.30%. The Sindh health department said 430 infections of the Omicron variant have been detected in Karachi.
Moreover, Sindh has also decided to increase the pace of vaccination in all cities of the province. Shah said that cases have risen because of carelessness, stressing the importance of strictly following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Meanwhile, wearing masks have been made mandatory in public places like malls, markets and wedding halls. Only vaccinated people will be allowed in markets, malls where their vaccination cards will be checked.
The task force also decided to take strict instructions on those not adhering to coronavirus SOPs. The meeting has proposed to impose a fine of one day's salary on those government officers not wearing masks.
Earlier, CM Shah had said that any decision regarding closing educational institutions will be taken in consultation with the NCOC.
"We are very closely watching our hospitalisations, critical care admissions and deaths but there has been no increase in them," the CM said on Friday.
The chief minister added that cases were still rising in the country, with Karachi reporting its highest-ever coronavirus cases at 2,081 on Thursday.
Cumulatively, Pakistan reported another 4,286 coronavirus cases on January 14, the highest since August 25 when it recorded 4,553 infections, while the country's positivity ratio was recorded at 8.16% during the last 24 hours, also the highest since August 11.
So far, Pakistan has confirmed 1,320,120 cases.
The death toll has risen to 29,003 after four people succumbed to the novel virus during the last 24 hours.
The recoveries from coronavirus have reached 1,263,005 after 2,598 more people recovered from the virus.
Meanwhile, the active number of cases have reached 28,112 while there are 709 critical cases.
This article was first published in Business Recorder on Jan 15, 2022