Door-to-door Covid-19 testing temporarily halted in Karachi's District South after 25 field staff test positive

Published June 14, 2020
Earlier today, Sindh's coronavirus tally surpassed 53,000 after 2,287 new cases were confirmed. — AP/File
Earlier today, Sindh's coronavirus tally surpassed 53,000 after 2,287 new cases were confirmed. — AP/File

The Sindh government's door-to-door Covid-19 testing facility for Karachi's District South was temporarily suspended last week after more than 25 field staff tested positive for the novel coronavirus, it emerged on Sunday.

Speaking to Dawn.com, Meeran Yousuf, who is the media coordinator for the provincial Health and Population Welfare Department, said that the service was halted last week but that it was now functioning, albeit on a limited scale. She added that it was routine for all field staff to be tested for the virus.

"Teams at the district health office (DHO) were working in three shifts: morning, afternoon and evening. However, the entire operation had to be halted for a couple of days after more than 25 members tested positive.

"That essentially only left us with enough people to cover one shift, it just wasn't possible for them to carry out testing in the same manner."

She maintained that some of the staff that had the space to self-isolate at home were told to do so, while others were placed in isolation centres.

The media coordinator added that due to the sheer number of people that had tested positive, the DHO had to be temporarily shut down and disinfected. According to Yousuf, the department had "mentally prepared" itself for staff to start testing positive, calling it "inevitable".

"We are mentally prepared, considering the load of cases, it is inevitable."

She said that while field staff were taking all precautionary measures when visiting homes, they were ultimately faced with an invisible enemy. "They don't know if the risk of contagion is there or not when they go into homes, but they are taking the necessary precautions."

She added that the temporarily halt and the subsequent hit taken by field staff had affected testing in the area. "We get around 300 to 400 requests daily [from the district]. Now we have essentially one shift trying to manage the whole situation."

The health department is working on trying to remedy the situation, she said.

"I have spoken to the health minister in this regard [...] we have been recruiting more staff and will send them more so that at least the office is up and running and they are able to keep functioning."

She added that this process would take a maximum of two days.

Yousuf also offered alternatives for those living in the district that wished to get tested for Covid-19.

"Citizens can either visit the DHO South directly or have their samples taken at Bayview Hospital. Other than that, there is CBC Elaj, Lyari General Hospital and, of course, the drive-through testing facility."

Earlier today, Sindh's coronavirus tally surpassed 53,000 after 2,287 new cases were confirmed while the death toll rose to 831. Of these, 43,246 cases and 682 deaths have been reported in Karachi.

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