Pakistani authorities have imposed a lockdown in the southern Sindh province, including the commercial hub of Karachi and other urban centres, amid an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases.
The lockdown began Saturday and is set to last until Aug. 8, despite opposition from the federal government and the local business community.
Sindh’s chief minister Murad Ali Shah said Friday that a sudden rise in virus cases has flooded hospitals in Karachi, the provincial capital. The new surge appears linked to many of the crowd-attracting activities earlier this month during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
The Sindh provincial government is closing all markets, except for pharmacies, bakeries, gas stations and grocery stores, which still must close by 6 p.m. All transport between cities is halted and public busses aren’t operating. Private cars and taxis are limited to two people. Ongoing examinations at schools and universities are also postponed until after the lockdown.
“Pakistan’s economic hub Karachi should not be completely locked down in the larger national interest,” The News International quoted FPCCI President Nasser Hyatt Maggo as saying in a statement.
“The only solution out of the current situation, without causing any harm to businesses and employment opportunities, is to allow business and economic activities under strict compliance of SOPs and mandatory vaccination of the workforce.
“If industries and businesses remain under restrictions, we will not be able to pay salaries,” he added.
FPCCI hopes that its concerted appeal to the Sindh government will result in reconsideration of the strict decisions taken and will result in a more compliant environment in the province vis-a-vis Covid control and, yet protect the economic and employment opportunities through taking all stakeholders on board.
Meanwhile, Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Zubair Motiwala said businesses strongly opposed the lockdown strategy to deal with the pandemic, as the only workable solution for minimizing the number of Covid cases is to forcefully get the people vaccinated and ensure strict implementation of SOPs.
Nationwide, Pakistan on Saturday reported 65 deaths and 4,950 new virus cases in the past 24 hours. The South Asian country has reported 1,029,811 confirmed cases and 23,360 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic