MURREE: Local people have opposed Punjab government’s decision to convert hotels in the resort town into quarantine centres for suspected coronavirus patients.

The residents said they would not allow shifting of any suspected Covid-19 patient to the city from outside.“When not a single case of the disease has been reported here it is not justified to make quarantines and bring thousands of people coming from abroad to the city that could put the lives of the local population at a danger,” said Haroon Abbasi, a social activist.

When the whole city was locked down affecting the livelihood of thousands of daily wagers and labourers, people of Murree did not resist it in the best interest of the nation, said Shahid Aftab Abbasi, a local trader.

He said people of Murree had a history of resistance for their rights and they would resist the idea of setting up quarantine in the city.

In a message, MNA Sadaqat Ali Abbasi said shifting of people coming from foreign countries to the quarantines in Murree for a 15-day observation was under consideration.

For this purpose, hotels would be converted into quarantines and if anyone of the suspects was found infected by the virus they would be shifted to hospitals.

The MNA said after the lockdown in the city, business activities had already come to a halt and in such as situation the government was offering the hotel owners rent for their hotels which they should accept.

However, he added, so far there was no emergency in the country warranting such a forceful action. All the arrangements would be made in consultation with the hotel owners, he added.

When contacted, Assistant Commissioner Murree Zahid Hussain, who also holds the additional charge of town administrator, told Dawn that the proposal was under consideration and the administration would take the initiative in the best interest of the people at large.

He said at a meeting with stakeholders, including hotel owners, traders’ association, civil society representatives and media, the town administration listened to their grievances and assured them of removing their apprehensions.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2020