SOPs flouted as city breaks curfew
As the country’s coronavirus positivity rate continues to decline amid a drop in virus cases, the Sindh government, however, believes the province could use a few more weeks of restrictions for good measure.
The limitations, which included reduced opening hours and a nighttime curfew, were introduced in the days following Eidul Fitar, given the relatively high number of Covid-19 cases in urban areas of Sindh.
It was believed that if urban centers like Karachi, where cases had increased, followed protocol and avoided public places for a few weeks, the province could survive the third wave of the virus and soon return to normal.
To ensure that everything goes as planned, police mobiles have been posted on the city’s highways and street corners. By law, all markets, malls, bazaars, and stores – other than those exempted – were to close at 6:00 p.m., indoor and outdoor meals were to be suspended, and a 8:00 p.m. curfew was put on. in place to limit unnecessary movement in the city, working hours spent.
However, despite firm policies on paper, the restrictions appear to have had little impact on the city’s semi-urban and residential neighborhoods, where small businesses operate unbridled, SOPs continue to be flouted and movements public have remained largely free.
“Large markets in areas like Saddar, Kemari and SITE close regularly at 6:00 pm. These are smaller areas where commercial activities continue until midnight and stores operate behind half-drawn shutters. Police mobiles patrol here and there, but most traders are said to have made an agreement with the police and the district administration, which grant some leniency. Then they resume their activities as soon as the police van is cleared, ”said a local trader on condition of anonymity.
According to local sources, the curfew intended to keep citizens indoors between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. also appears to have disappeared, after a few days of vigor. “It’s common to see unlimited travel after curfew in the city, nobody really cares. Nightly matches take place every weekend on residential streets and although SOPs restrict more than two passengers per vehicle, no one really seems to follow them.
What’s more, people have even stopped wearing masks now, and mosques are also jam-packed and running on routine, without any social distancing. It looks like we’ve all turned a blind eye to the third wave by now, ”said Sajid, a final year student at Karachi University.
Besides the decline in the implementation of SOPs, the inhabitants of the port city seem to have found themselves in a new conundrum, where the effectiveness and safety of vaccines are again called into question. Much of this confusion is believed to stem from rumors, hoaxes and misinformation circulating on social media platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp groups. “I don’t know how true this is, but I got messages saying these vaccines cause death in two years, which is pretty scary,” said Amin, a middle-aged real estate agent.
The government, meanwhile, has flatly denied all such rumors, citing instead a recent increase in vaccination rates across the city. In addition to government claims, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Secretary General Professor Qaiser Sajjad has confirmed that there is no scientific evidence for the vaccine claims on social media. “Every citizen should make vaccination a priority without any fear, those suffering from serious illnesses should also consider vaccination after consulting their doctor. But even if they are already vaccinated, people should still put up with PCS for a while. It’s a few days of inconvenience, but if we follow the government’s advice, we will save several lives and survive this pandemic together, ”he urged.
Speaking in this regard, the adviser to the chief minister, Waqar Mehdi, however, argued that the action taken by the Sindh government has resulted in a drop in coronavirus cases in the region.
“We have tightened restrictions in the province, but this is a temporary measure. As soon as the cases start to decrease, we will release them during the examination. These policies have helped us control the situation in the province so far, and we will soon conquer the third wave as well, ”he told The Express Tribune.