ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: The National Institute of Health (NIH) has expedited the process of conducting free coronavirus tests in the capital but the response of citizens has been against expectations.
Teams from the NIH in collaboration with the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) have been conducting tests at the union council level.
According to Deputy Mayor Syed Zeeshan Naqvi, who is collaborating with the NIH teams, free tests were conducted in four union councils of G-6 and G-7.
Mr Naqvi said samples of 400 people in the four union councils were collected on Monday.
“These 400 people were selected randomly and the results will be issued to them in a week. This exercise will continue for one month during which all the 50 union councils will be covered,” he said.
It seems people are wrongly thinking that the govt will pick them up if they test positive, deputy mayor says
But Mr Naqvi said people were still reluctant to get themselves tested for the virus even free of cost.
“People should benefit from the exercise. Today, the NIH teams could not meet their target. If they wanted to test 100 people, only 80 were found willing to give samples,” he said, adding the local government through its elected representatives had been making efforts to create awareness of the coronavirus pandemic and the importance of conducting a test.
Out of the 50 UCs, 32 fall in the rural area of the capital such as Bhara Kahu, Shah Allah Ditta, Shahzad Town and Tarlai which reported a large number of positive cases in March and April.
Later, the virus spread to almost all areas of the capital.
“The response of the residents towards getting themselves tested is not encouraging. Even in my UC of Shah Allah Ditta and Golra, despite our hectic efforts around 600 people gave samples for tests. And today, in the thickly-populated four union councils of G-6 and G-7, only 400 people gave samples,” the deputy mayor said.
He said that it seemed people were wrongly thinking that in case of a positive result the government would pick them up.
Mohsin Sheerazi, a spokesperson for the MCI, also said the response of people was not encouraging.
”We request people to take advantage of the free testing facility,” he said, adding on Tuesday the NIH teams in collaboration with the respective UC chairmen will conduct tests in G-8 and G-9.
Hundreds of houses in the capital are being used as quarantine centres for their residents who have tested positive.
Officials of the capital administration and police said these houses were declared quarantine centres by the capital administration after one or more residents tested positive.
When contacted, DIG Operations Waqaruddin Syed told Dawn that at present 667 houses had been declared quarantine centres in the capital while 12 streets were sealed.
Subdivisional police officers were made in-charges of teams to take care of the houses.
Officials said the in-charges of the teams were asked to follow safety and security measures to stop entry and exit of people to these houses.
No person will be allowed to enter or leave a house except officials from the health department, said officials, adding due to shortage of manpower the houses will be covered with police station patrolling officers.
As the number of such houses is increasing, the police are facing shortage of manpower to deploy at each and every house. As a result, the patrolling officers are being asked to check these houses on a regular basis.
The police have also been asked to check the houses to ensure SOPs were being implemented.
Additional Superintendent of Police Farhat Abbas Kazmi told Dawn that every day the capital administration issued new lists of houses declared quarantine after its residents tested positive or recovered from the disease.
Meanwhile, as the number of Covid-19 cases continued increasing, the administration started fining people for violation of the coronavirus precautions.
Officials of the capital administration said during the last two days, 1,006 people tested positive. On Sunday, the capital witnessed another record increase in positive cases with 656 people testing positive in a single day and three succumbing to the virus.
They said since June 5, Rs64,000 fine was imposed on individuals and Rs232,000 on shopkeepers for not following SOPs, adding 38 hotels and 79 shops were also sealed along with 16 workshops and seven industrial units.
During the last two days, 1006 more positive cases were reported with at least three more deaths in the capital.
On Monday, 350 people tested positive but no death was reported.
The tally of confirmed cases reached 5,329 with 4,486 active cases. So far, 843 patients have recovered and 52 passed away.
Another official said as per details collected on June 7, there were only eight beds left in nine hospitals. The nine hospitals had allotted 164 beds for the patients and there are 156 patients admitted in these hospitals, he added.
The number of coronavirus infections reached 2,973 in Rawalpindi as 82 new cases were reported in the district on Monday.
Three patients also passed away taking the tally of deaths to 116.
The first Covid-19 patient was reported in Rawalpindi on March 23.
There are 431 patients isolated in their homes in Rawal Town, 205 in Potohar Town and 218 in the cantonment areas. As many as 42 patients have died in Rawal Town, 18 in Potohar Town and 37 in the cantonments.
As part of precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus, the district administration has disinfected 219 places in Rawalpindi.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2020