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Covid-19 in Pakistan: Violations of govt SOPs continue as lockdowns eased

Express Tribune
The number of coronavirus cases rise steeply as government looks to resume economic activity
by TR Pakistan

The numbers: After lifting restrictions to ease lockdowns across the country, Pakistan’s total number of coronavirus cases has risen to 38,512 as of Saturday morning, with 823 deaths and 10,880 patients having recovered. The count of confirmed cases is 13,914 in Punjab, 14,916 in Sindh, 5,678 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 2,457 in Balochistan. Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad have reported 518 and 921 cases respectively, whereas Azad Jammu & Kashmir reported 108 cases with its first death due to the novel virus.

Violation of SOPs: On May 9, nationwide lockdowns were eased and a list of Standard Opening Procedures (SOPs) was issued by the government that included guidelines to businesses and the public on leaving their homes during coronavirus pandemic. While Sindh government maintained stricter lockdowns than the rest of the country, in Balochistan the SOPs were openly violated in many areas. According to the Prime Minister, the restrictions for lockdowns have been eased to provide relief to the economic sector as the country has to navigate between potential poverty and the effects of the pandemic. He said that lockdowns were never a permanent solution and the government must find a balance between economic activity and protective measures to curb the spread of the virus such as smart lockdowns. Sindh government has also passed strict laws regarding the violation of SOPs laid down by the government, which can mean fines from Rs.200,000 up to 1 million rupees.

Extended closure of schools:  All educational institutions and schools across the country have been closed until July 15 and students have been promoted to their next classes based on last year’s exams including Grade 9 through 12. Further details about promotion of students and the next steps are expected to be issued soon.

Religious commemoration: On May 15, there was a strict lockdown once again in Punjab, as Youm-e-Ali processions ensued. All public transport was blocked from Katchery Chowk to Data Darbar as the Youm-e-Ali flag march proceeded from Minar-i-Pakistan and ended at Karbala Gamay Shah. Many doctors across the country have also asked citizens to celebrate Eid ul Fitr with simplicity and take precautionary measures into account.

Health sector: As Pakistan becomes self-reliant in the manufacturing of ventilators, oxygenators, masks, and other protective equipment, hundreds of doctors have signed up for the telehealth portal that allows citizens to consult medical professionals from their homes, according to Tania Aidrus, focal person of the Digital Pakistan Initiative.

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