KARACHI: Lyari and its neighbouring areas are a new hotspot for the Covid-19 pandemic, where in just two days more than 60 people were tested positive for coronavirus. The situation demands immediate and strong measures from the authorities for the densely populated neighbourhood, officials and sources said on Sunday.
The situation has also caused a stir at the Chief Minister House where CM Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the district administration, health officials of the area and security high-ups to move fast for all possible measures to prevent the outbreak in the neighbourhoods, where any negligence and relaxation could cause a “huge disaster”.
The CM assigned senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader Waqar Mehdi, who is his special assistant on inspection and inquires, to look into the situation and devise an urgent plan to contain the spread of the virus.
Mr Mehdi agreed to the CM’s concerns, but reiterated that the district administration and government machinery was fully activated to keep things under control.
“The situation is critical in the sense that in only two days we have registered 67 patients in the Lyari and Garden areas,” he told Dawn. “It’s not like that we had no case of Covid-19 in district South or Lyari neighbourhoods before, but the worrying thing is that the fresh cases have been reported from katchi abadis, which are so densely populated. Before the fresh 67 cases, we had coronavirus patients in Civil Lines and areas of Cantonment Board in district South. The fresh trend doesn’t sound good.”
A political party activist in Lyari termed the situation “critical” and said that the standard of living, general lifestyle of the people and history of the area did not allow many lockdown restrictions, ultimately leading to violation of the defined guidelines, or standard operating procedures, announced by the government and health experts to maintain social distancing.
“In only one union council, which is called Bihar Colony, some 17 people were tested positive by Saturday afternoon,” he said. “The fact is the lockdown like other parts of the city is not that effective in Lyari or areas like these in district South. People don’t follow rules and the administration doesn’t look very much interested to enforce them for multiple reasons. The situation demands immediate intervention from the top.”
The provincial administration with the assistance of district authorities has decided to opt for a modern testing in the areas to identify infected people and at least restrict their movement to other parts of the city even if they did not follow the lockdown in their own neighbourhoods.
“We are going to launch a rapid testing system in the area and it will help identify and isolate positive cases,” said Mr Mehdi. “Through this system, we will be able to get reports of the suspected cases within 10 minutes. It would do our job fast and help setting the course of our strategy.”
He said that among the 67 positive cases, more than 30 patients were moved to isolation centres and others were quarantined at their homes. “We all need to fight this challenge together and we hope to meet the desired results with collective efforts.”
Earlier on Sunday, the CM said that coronavirus claimed eight more lives in a single day, lifting the death toll to 56 in the province within a month.
“May God have mercy on us and save our people from this virus,” he said in his video message released from the CM House.
He said that as many as 1,520 tests were conducted during the past 24 hours and 182 of them were diagnosed as positive. “The number of tests conducted so far comes to 24,458,” he added.
Mr Shah noted that on Saturday 138 positive cases came out of 1,666 tests and 182 more positive cases emerged when 1,520 more test were conducted. “The positives kept on increasing when more samples are tested,” he said.
He said that eight patients of coronavirus lost their lives on Sunday, which was the highest toll so far.
“The first patient had died on March 19 and after that the highest number of deaths of six patients was reported on April 11 and on Sunday the coronavirus has claimed eight lives, which is quite saddening and painful,” he said, adding: “The total death between March 19 and April 19 has reached to 56, which is 2.1 per cent of the total patients.”
The chief minister that the death of 56 patients in a month was quite worrisome and it showed that the coronavirus was claiming more than one life every day. Therefore, people must adopt precautionary measures, he said.
Talking about the patients under treatment, the chief minister said that 1,066 were in home isolation, 492 at isolation centres and 299 were in different hospitals.
He said that 1,857 patients were under treatment and added that 33 patients had recovered and left for their home, taking the total number of recovered patients to 625, which was 25 per cent of the total patients.
Giving details of members of the Tableeghi Jamaat, Mr Shah said that 4,346 of the total 4,724 people were tested and 494 of them came as positive. Three Tableeghi Jamaat members have recovered and returned to their home.
He said that the first flight from Oman brought 176 Pakistanis and they all were tested.
“By the grace of God, 170 of the Oman-based Pakistanis were tested negative while results of six others were being awaited,” he said, adding that the male passengers had been kept at Labour Colony while female housed in Ramada Hotel at airport.
The chief minister said that very soon he would relax the lockdown, but life would not be the same as it was on or before Jan 1.
“We all have to adopt new health-oriented precautionary measures in our lives and these precautions will continue till the treatment of Covid-19 is discovered,” he said.
He said that the coronavirus brought an emergency all over the world and all the nations were fighting against it by adopting the precautionary measures suggested by experts.
“We are a Muslim nation believing in hygiene and purity and time has come to practice these principles of Islam,” he said.
The chief minister in his concluding remarks urged the people to keep social distancing even from their family members.
“When anyone returns home they must wash hands and change clothes and preferably take a shower to keep their family members safe and secure from the virus,” he said.