Campaign to identify coronavirus spread in capital’s slum areas begins

Updated June 30, 2020

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Surveys under Trace, Test and Quarantine policy only cover upscale sectors, MCI Health Services DG says. — Dawn/File
Surveys under Trace, Test and Quarantine policy only cover upscale sectors, MCI Health Services DG says. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Capital authorities on Monday began a campaign to identify the spread of the coronavirus in high-risk slums and informal settlements in the capital.

Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) Health Services Director General Dr Hasan Orooj told Dawn that surveys carried out under the Trace, Test and Quarantine (TTQ) policy only cover upscale localities of the capital and do not include Islamabad residents who live in slums.

“There are 34 slums in the capital, of which 18 are legal. We have decided to hold a campaign in 10 slums and around 1,000 tests will be carried out in 10 days,” he said.

Dr Orooj said that out of concern that they may face refusals, similar to polio vaccinations, the local government has been involved and union council chairmen have been directed to persuade people to agree to get tested and to provide sites where samples may be collected because of the number of standard operating procedures that need to be enforced while doing so.

Surveys under Trace, Test and Quarantine policy only cover upscale sectors, MCI Health Services DG says

The campaign began on Monday in 48 Quarters, G-7/3. It aims to cover one slum every day.

56 beds for Covid-19 patients occupied at Pims

Of the 212 beds allocated for patients of Covid-19 at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), 56 are currently occupied.

The hospital has tested 8,847 people for the disease for free, of which a quarter - 2,080 - were positive. Of the 56 Covid-19 patients admitted to Pims, 10 are on ventilators, and 100 patients have died of the disease at the hospital so far.

There has been criticism all over the country about the lack of space for Covid-19 patients in hospitals, many of whom have been turned away from healthcare facilities after being told there are no beds available for them.

Pims media coordinator Dr Waseem Khawaja told Dawn on Monday that while more than 2,000 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 at the hospital, this does not mean they all need to be admitted.

He saidmore than 80pc of patients develop minor symptoms, and few people need critical care or hospitalisation, adding: “Despite that, a number of patients who do not need to be hospitalised insist of being admitted, failing which they begin criticising the unavailability of facilities.”

He claimed that patients decide if they should be admitted to hospital rather than leaving their admission up to a professional healthcare provider.

“Sometimes patients insist on admissions, so doctors tell them that beds are not available rather than indulging in a long debate about how beds are for critical patients, as every patient thinks he or she is critical,” he added.

Dr Khawaja said that 56 of the 212 oxygenated beds are currently occupied, as are 10 of the 25 ventilators.

“We have vacant beds, and more beds can be arranged if the number of critical patients increases. No critical patient is refused admission to the hospital,” he said, adding: “Different wards have been dedicated for the isolation and treatment of Covid-19 patients. Medical II, Medical IV, Surgical II, Surgical IV and three floors of the private ward have been dedicated just for Covid-19 patients,” he added.

When asked, Dr Khawaja said there have been 100 Covid-19 related deaths in the hospital. He added that two Pims healthcare workers have died, while hospital staff, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, cleaners, security and other employees, are playing an important role in saving patients’ lives.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2020