ISLAMABAD: Government organisations that own rest houses in the capital as well as the owners of hotels and motels have been asked to close down their accommodation facilities for visitors until further orders so that they may be converted into quarantine centres if needed.

These directives were issued by the capital administration in light to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said.

The administration has also sought assistance from doctors and paramedics to operate three quarantine facilities set up for suspected Covid-19 patients. The facilities have been established at the Pak-China Friendship Centre, the Haj Complex and the OGDCL Rest House in I-9.

The officials said that the administration has asked some hotels and rest houses owned by government departments not to take any bookings until further orders.

Backup arrangements have also been made at two hotels, to be used as quarantine centres as and when required. These were both recently utilised to quarantine Pakistani travels upon their return; they were allowed to go home once their tests from Covid-19 came back negative.

The officials said that the services a few doctors and paramedics were arranged for the three aforementioned quarantine centres through the Ministry of National Health Services, but more are still required.

The administration has advertised jobs for doctors and paramedics at quarantine facilities, but they have not yet received a positive response, the officials said.

Excise and Taxation Director Bilal Azam told Dawn that there are between 10 and 15 hotels and 20 and 25 rest houses available that could be used as quarantine facilities. Their managements have been asked to close their accommodation facilities in this regard, so that they are available whenever needed. He said two hotels are already being used as quarantine centres.

When asked about the need for paramedics and doctors at quarantine centres, he said their services sought through advertisements, but only a few paramedics have applied so far. Seniors doctors have been asked to search for doctors and paramedics and persuade them to work in quarantine facilities.

Mr Azam said staff would be provided all the necessary safety kids; their services would be taken for three to four months, and they would be paid through the National Disaster Management Authority during this period.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2020

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