Dr Azra, Ghani differ over relaxation in Covid restrictions


Coronavirus restrictions will not be eased in Sindh any time soon, said Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuhoon Thursday.

The business community is protesting but the government needs to keep restrictions imposed to control Covid-19 spread.

“We have tried to keep a balance between restrictions and business activities,” said the health minister. “But we cannot open businesses and ease restrictions on public demand.”

Shops throughout the province are open till 6pm. Businesses should open earlier, not at 12pm, so that they have the whole day to do business, said DrPechuho.

Covid-19 cases are once again on the rise in Sindh. The positivity ratio in Karachi is 11%, while it has declined to three to four percent across the country, she said.Hospitals are filling up again because people are not being careful.

The situation will not be brought under control if people flout SOPs and refuse to get vaccinated, DrPechuho said.

Around 80% of people will need to be vaccinated in the country if the pandemic is to end, according to the provincial health minister.

Workplaces should get their employees vaccinated.Stop paying heed to misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, she urged. DrPechuho said there were enough Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines for second doses.

“We are keeping a record and contacting those due for a second dose.” She asked political party heads to encourage vaccination.

Talking about virus variants, the health minister said that Sindh had detected four cases of the Delta variant.They were reported in passengers from Iraq and Doha after rapid antigen testing.

For those returning from the Middle East, we do rapid testing and then a PCR test, said DrPechuho. If both these tests are positive, we conduct genetic sequencing of the virus samples.

So far, there have been 75% of cases of the UK, or Alpha, variant and 20% of South Africa, or Beta one.

The spread of variants has been controlled through contact tracing and isolation of patients.

This is why community transmission of the virus variants has not been reported yet, DrPechuho said.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Saeed Ghani on Thursday said that the business hours will soon to be extended to 8:00pm.

“An announcement with regard to the new business hours will be made in a day or two,” provincial minister said in a statement.

“The situation has improved in Sindh, we are now moving towards easing the restrictions,” Saeed Ghani stated.“Nothing could happen without cooperation from general public,” the minister said.

While appealing the people and traders to get vaccinated, Saeed Ghani said that the restrictions will not be further tightened but going to ease out.“The business hours could even extend from 8:00pm if the situation returns to normal,” he added.