Sindh establishes first coronavirus drive-through testing facility in Karachi

Updated 01 Apr 2020

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Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah goes through the drive-through testing centre in Karachi. — Screengrab courtesy Twitter video
Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah goes through the drive-through testing centre in Karachi. — Screengrab courtesy Twitter video

A drive-through coronavirus testing centre was on Tuesday inaugurated in Karachi — the first such centre reported to be established in Pakistan.

Visiting the newly established centre, inaugurated jointly by the Sindh local government and health departments, Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that it was part of the provincial government's war against the coronavirus. He said that currently the largest demand was for testing for Covid-19.

The drive-through testing facility has been established in Jahangir Kothari Parade area of Clifton, according to a press release issued by Shah's director for media management and public relations.

The doctors, paramedical staff, and other personnel deployed at the new testing facility in Karachi have been provided with all the necessary safety, protective equipment and gear to safeguard the virus, the press release added.

The media coordinator to the Sindh health minister Meeran Yousuf told Dawn.com that mobile vans belonging to the Indus Hospital are being used for the drive-through testing. She said that the vans will be going around Karachi's District South, adding that they are currently working on a proper schedule for the testing.

Citizens can call to book appointments between 9am and 5pm and the facility will collect the samples from 12pm to 3pm, said Yousuf.

According to Shah, people who visit the drive-through testing station will be registered and given a number, but for the test to be conducted, they should possess a travel history or certain symptoms of the virus.

He explained that instead of these individuals going to hospitals for testing or availing the facilities to be tested at home, they will be able to use the drive-through testing facility.

In a tweet, Shah's office explained the process for qualifying for testing at the drive-through centre:

  • In order to be tested, citizens should call the office for District Commissioner South at 02199203012 between 9am and 5pm.
  • The helpline will provide a time and code for the test.
  • There are three stages of the drive-through test.

Explaining the process, Shah said that individuals who have obtained the code for testing will also be asked questions regarding their travel history and why they want to be tested for the virus.

Shah said prior to the test being conducted, there is a filter, a new technique using an X-ray, which will help clarify if the individuals require a test or if they should be given other suggestions.

The minister said that this is the first drive-through facility in the province, adding that such centres will also be introduced in other areas across Sindh.

In a tweet, announcing the inauguration of the centre, Shah added that he had also been tested and his results were negative.

So far 676 cases have been confirmed in Sindh and a total of 1,943 cases have been confirmed across Pakistan.

Drive-through testing facilities have been set up in various countries including Germany, Lisbon and the United Arab Emirates.

In the small German town of Gross-Gerau, the drive-through testing facility has been designed to minimise exposure to medical staff and patients. The drive-in at the local hospital is one of several unexpected ways healthcare providers are tackling a fast-spreading outbreak.