A health official checks the body temperature of a passengers at Karachi Cantonment Railway Station on March 16 amid concerns over the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Pakistan. (Photo: Asif Hassan/AFP)
Officials in Pakistan’s Sindh province have reached out to minority leaders in a bid to combat the coronavirus that has badly hit the country’s southern region.
The move came as Pakistan saw its biggest daily spike of Covid-19 cases on March 16. According to federal and provincial health officials, the number of coronavirus cases jumped from 33 to 183 within 48 hours and many of these were in Sindh.
“The total number of people affected by coronavirus in Sindh has reached 146. Out of this, 119 are Zaireen [Shia pilgrims] who are being kept in Sukkur, 26 are in Karachi and one is in Hyderabad. This exponential increase is largely due to the recent inflow of people from Taaftaan [Pakistan-Iran border crossing] after a purported quarantine,” Murtaza Wahab, the Sindh government’s spokesman, tweeted.
Separately, Sindh's Education Minister Saeed Ghani met with Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Bishop Sadiq Daniel of the Church of Pakistan, Maharaja Ravi of Shiv Mandir Clifton and other religious leaders and briefed them on the measures being taken by the provincial government to stop the spread of the pandemic.
In a video statement later, Cardinal Coutts urged fellow Christians to extend full support to the government.
“We are passing through a difficult time. All citizens should cooperate with the government in its efforts to fight the coronavirus. Not only is the virus posing a threat to the world but it has also severely affected Pakistan,” Cardinal Coutts said.
“To contain this virus, as scientists say, is to adopt social distancing. There shouldn’t be any large gatherings. The virus can spread to others if we get closer. It is, therefore, the duty of us as citizens to comply with the directives that are being issued by the government. We can only prevent this virus from spreading as there is no cure or vaccine to date.
“I also call upon my Christian brethren who would want to come to churches on Friday and Sunday to avoid large gatherings. In the end, the Almighty will reward you for your intentions. If we can’t go to a church, mosque or temple, we can pray or worship at home with our families, God shall hear us. We, the people of all faiths, should pray to God to save us from this plague.”
Schools have been shut down, parks closed and marriage ceremonies and sporting events canceled across Pakistan to fight the disease that has infected almost 183,000 people globally and killed nearly 7,200.
The virus was first traced in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.