RAWALPINDI/TAXILA: A total of 31 pilgrims have been brought from the Taftan border and quarantined at facilities in Rawalpindi and Taxila.
The Rawalpindi district administration on Sunday moved 19 pilgrims to a quarantine facility in the Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, and booked three hotels in Saddar to quarantine passengers travelling from abroad to Islamabad International Airport (IIA).
Flashman Hotel, De Mall and Shalimar Hotel on The Mall will be used as temporary quarantine centres. Shalimar Hotel has 90 rooms, De Mall has 47 and Flashman Hotel has 32.
Assistant Commissioner Headquarters Mohammad Iqbal Sanghera told Dawn that although the government will pay the hotels Rs3,000 a day per room through the National Disaster Management Authority, Senator Mian Attique — who owns Shalimar Hotel — has offered his hotel as a quarantine centre for free.
Rawalpindi admin books three hotels to quarantine international passengers
Akbar International and Larosh Hotel on Liaquat Road will also be used to quarantine passengers if numbers increase, he said.
“According to the government’s directives, one flight will be the responsibility of the Islamabad administration while the second flight of the day will be the responsibility of the Rawalpindi administration,” Mr Sanghera said.
Passengers that are suspected patients of Covid-19 will be quarantined for 14 days and other passengers for three days after they land at IIA.
He said that early on Sunday, 19 people were brought from Taftan to IIA, and the district administration has quarantined them in Shamsabad.
Samples from all the pilgrims have been collected and dispatched to the National Institute of Health, he said, adding that they will all be quarantined for 14 days and anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will be taken to the Rawalpindi Institute of Urology.
Mr Sanghera added that the district administration has managed to distribute food in areas that have been sealed, with 14 trucks of goods distributed among the underprivileged.
Teams have been formed to monitor the work of the district health authority to screen people, and civic bodies involved in disinfecting areas where patients have been detected.
He said the commissioner and deputy commissioner have given special instructions to civic bodies to complete disinfection work as soon as possible to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to other areas. The Rawalpindi Waste Management Company, Rescue 1122 and Water and Sanitation Agency have been asked to spray chlorinated water on main roads, streets and pavements.
A total of 12 pilgrims who recently returned from Iran were brought from Taftan to a quarantine centre set up by the district administration in a hostel at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Taxila in the early hours of Sunday, health officials said.
The pilgrims were brought amid heavy security, escorted by police and other security forces.
Deputy District Officer Health Dr Sara Qadeer said the pilgrims were quarantined at a facility in the Workers Welfare Complex in Multan district and were brought to Taxila because it is close to their hometown, Rawalpindi city.
She said the pilgrims would be tested again before they are allowed to go home.
The quarantine facility at UET Taxila can accommodate 800 people. It offers medical treatment and health screening facilities, while doctors and paramedics have been provided safety kits.
The Government College of Technology Taxila, Labour Colony, Hitec University and other educational institutions have also been vacated by the district administration to quarantine pilgrims and other citizens travelling from abroad.
Rawalpindi Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Anwarul Haq told Dawn there are four confirmed Covid-19 patients in Rawalpindi who are from Taxila tehsil. Two of them are at the POF Hospital and two at RIU; two have a travel history and another two are local transmission cases.
A man who recently travelled from Dubai has tested positive for Covid-19 in Wah.
Health officials said that the Kashmir Colony resident was moved to RIU. Samples have been taken from nine of his family members and sent for testing, while his home has been declared a quarantine centre and posters affixed outside it to restrict public entry and interaction with the family.
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2020