ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: The capital administration on Saturday said that all outlets offering home delivery services should get their staff tested for Covid-19 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Also on Saturday, Islamabad saw another rapid rise in Covid-19 cases after 51 more brought the city’s total to 609.
The administration’s decision was made based on advice from the Ministry of National Health Services, District Health Office (DHO) and Epidemiologists from the Deputy Commissioner’s District Covid Nerve Centre.
District Health Officer Dr Zaeem Zia toldDawnthat Covid-19 tests forworkers- and delivery persons in particular - have been made mandatory after 25 employees of a restaurant in F-7 tested positive within a few days. The restaurant’s two buildings in the sector have been sealed until further orders, he added.
Four restaurant staffers were initially diagnosed with Covid-19, following which the DHO directed that the restaurant have 25 more tested as well; 21 tested positive.
Floor in DHO sealed after one staffer tests positive; localities in Taramri unsealed
Dr Zia said most of the staffers are from other parts of the country, and efforts are ongoing to send them to their hometowns, which are also being approached to take precautionary measures.
He said that there is now a set criteria for sealing any locality or outlet under which an area will only be sealed if seven people test positive either on the same day or altogether.
A notification has been issued which stated that after input from the aforementioned bodies, all home deliveries or food and non-food items are to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOP) for personal hygiene, hand sanitisation and the sanitisation of deliveries.
All restaurants offering home deliveries shall ensure all employees are tested for Covid-19; only those who test negative may be allowed to deliver or prepare delivery items.
Pharmacies, restaurants and stores are also directed to ensure manual deliveries practice hand sanitisation, social distancing and ensure that items are handed over after sanitisation. The provision of hand sanitiser at entry and exits should also be ensured.
A floor of the DHO in F-8 was also sealed after one staff member tested positive, administration officials said. The staffer was working inside the office and was not involved in any outdoor activities.
The staffer has been isolated at home and the second floor of the office has been sealed for a few days, they said. A few other staffers are also being tested for Covid-19, and the tracing of the patient’s contacts is ongoing.
Five localities in Taramri were unsealed by the administration on Saturday. Main Street, Lane C, Street C-2, Taramri Chowk and Irfanabad were sealed on April 9 after 16 people tested positive for Covid-19.
Dr Zia said that 17 people have tested positive from the area so far, of whom 14 have recovered. The remaining three patients are isolated in their homes, he said.
He said that six areas in the capital have been sealed one after another, and precautionary measures taken by the capital administration to contain the coronavirus there has led to five of them being unsealed later.
Now, he said, only a few streets in I-10 remain sealed. Dr Zia added that the DHO has traced more than 250 Covid-19 patients while tracking down the contacts of other patients.
A notification issued by the DHO in this regard said that after a detailed survey, contact tracing, ground surveillance and testing of suspected patients, Main Street, Lane C, Street C-2, Taramri Chowk and Irfanabad have been unsealed.
Precautions including personal protection and hygiene as well as social distancing will still be observed in the area, and random cluster sampling of the local population will also continue to monitor disease trends.
The unsealed area will be regulated under the prevailing order of CrPC section 144, issued on March 25. The Islamabad police and army have been asked to withdraw entry and exit restrictions.
Of the 51 new cases reported in Islamabad, eight are from Sohan, seven from I-8, five each from G-9 and G-11, four from I-9, three each from Jhangi Syedan and G-10, two each from F-8, G-6, G-13, Lohi Bher and Rawat and one each from Bhara Kahu, G-8, Rawal Town, Shahzad Town and Tarlai. The address of one patient is not known.
There has been no let up in the spread of the coronavirus in Rawalpindi, with two more deaths and 42 new cases reported on Saturday.
A 60-year-old woman who lived in Faisal Colony in Tench Bhatta who was brought to the Military Hospital on May 7 died on Saturday, along with a 75-year-old man who lived on D.A.V. College Road and was brought to Heart International Hospital on May 8 with symptoms of Covid-19.
The number of Covid-19 patients in Rawalpindi has now reached 1,344, with 46 deaths and 231 recoveries. There are currently 865 patients being treated in hospitals, and 313 are isolated in their homes.
Another 362 suspected patients have been brought to the city’s three hospitals and their samples were sent to the National Institute of Health and Benazir Bhutto Hospital for testing; the results will take three to four days.
Local administrators have quarantined 1,769 people who were close contacts of the confirmed patients, of which 1,453 have been silted in their homes.
Another six people were diagnosed with Covid-19 in Gujar Khan on Saturday.
According to health sources, the new patients are from Dhoke Mughlan in Mohra Noor village; they have been isolated at home under the supervision of health authorities.
Three more people also tested positive in Jalalpur tehsil in Jhelum district. The patients are relatives of a previous Jalalpur resident who was diagnosed with the disease and whose samples were taken following his diagnosis.
They have been isolated at home along with 13 other suspected patients, who are also relatives.
Health sources said the total number of Covid-19 patients in Jhelum has reached 137, of which 109 people have recovered and three have died.
Five Covid-19 patients from the district jail have been shifted to Lahore. — Additional reporting by Hamid Asghar
Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2020