Delta variant spread forces partial lockdown on Karachi, Pakistan's largest city
- The announcement came a day after Pakistan’s federal government banned staff from entering public offices, schools, restaurants, transport, shopping malls and air travel without vaccination certificates.
Pakistan’s Sindh province will go under a week-long partial lockdown from Saturday to curb the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant. Announcing the decision, Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah told a press conference that Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan, will be the focus during the partial lockdown because of its “serious situation.”
In the last 24 hours, Pakistan reported nearly 4,500 new Covid-19 cases and 86 related deaths, of which 14 deaths were reported from Karachi. Health experts have warned that Eid-al-Adha, the Muslim holiday, and elections held in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) could prove as superspreader events.
The Delta variant, first detected in India, is believed to be responsible for Pakistan’s fourth Covid wave. Citing data from Aga Khan University Hospital, Shah said that there is almost 100% prevalence of the Delta variant in Karachi.
"If you help us, we will be able to contain the spread of this disease. People are asking what will happen after August 8. We have to take measures so that our hospital facilities are not choked," the provincial chief minister said.
The announcement came a day after Pakistan’s federal government banned staff from entering public offices, schools, restaurants, transport, shopping malls and air travel without vaccination certificates despite low vaccination coverage. Less than 3% of Pakistan’s population has been fully vaccinated against coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
“I know, people will not be comfortable with lockdown, but it is inevitable we have to bring the numbers down,” Shah added.
According to the lockdown guidelines issued by the chief minister’s office, restaurants will be allowed only for delivery and no takeaway or dine-in will be permitted. There won’t be any restriction on the movement of citizens but inter-city travel will be banned. All markets will remain closed except pharmacies and grocery stores, that too only till 6pm. While health facilities including vaccination centres will remain open, all government offices will be closed during the week.
(With agency inputs)