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Public Not to Blame for Violating COVID-19 SOPs: Murad Ali Shah

by Newsweek Pakistan

Sindh chief minister tells media mixed messaging to blame for public’s lack of seriousness over pandemic

Mixed messaging about the seriousness of the threat posed by the novel coronavirus, and not the public, are to blame for violations of standard operating procedures (SOPs) designed to curb the spread of the deadly disease, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said on Thursday.

Addressing media in Rawalpindi, where the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had summoned him, Shah said the public had repeatedly received mixed signals about the seriousness of the pandemic. “The entire world and our country are going through a trial at the moment,” he said. “SOPs are not being followed at a lot of places and I will not blame the public for it. This is because of the mixed signals being sent to people,” he said. “One person says it [novel coronavirus] is a dangerous disease while another says it is just flu, you will be fine after suffering cold symptoms,” he added.

“There should be a unified message [from the government] that this is a life-threatening disease. This is serious,” he said.

Several lawmakers, mostly from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, have suggested the coronavirus is not a serious ailment and can easily be overcome with some rest and isolation. Among the lawmakers who have underplayed the threat are Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, who has likened it to a flu, Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has claimed it is only dangerous for the elderly, diabetics and patients of high blood pressure, and PTI Karachi President Khurram Zaman, who has alleged the cases of the virus are being ‘exaggerated’ to damage the country’s economy.

The Sindh chief minister said the federal government kept voicing concern for the economic impact on the poor of lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the virus. However, he said, the lives of the poor did not matter less than those of the elite, and if the virus started to impact laborers disproportionately, there would be no one left to take care of their families.

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