Govt to start randomised testing in Rawalpindi district today

Updated 06 Aug 2020

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District administration to begin sampling in government facilities, prisons, orphanages and markets. — AFP/File
District administration to begin sampling in government facilities, prisons, orphanages and markets. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: Inmates and staff in Adiala jail will undergo randomised testing for Covid-19, as will markets and orphanages in Rawalpindi, starting today (Thursday).

Commissioner retired Mohammad Mehmood told Dawn that the provincial government has asked the district administration to begin sampling in government facilities, prisons, orphanages and congested areas such as markets.

“We set a target for teams to [sample 1,200 people] for Covid-19 for a week, and the results will be given to the Punjab government on a daily basis which will compile the details for future planning,” he said.

Mr Mehmood said that the new data will give the government the opportunity to decide whether to impose localised lockdowns or take precautions to prevent a new surge in the coronavirus.

Health teams conducted random testing in cattle markets during Eidul Azha, he said, which proved to be a good exercise to check the spread of the coronavirus.

District administration to begin sampling in government facilities, prisons, orphanages and markets

“We carried out 900 tests for Covid-19 [in cattle markets] and they were all negative. After this, the provincial government decided to open markets early on Aug 3 instead of Aug 5,” he said.

He said teams would begin the effort from Raja Bazaar on Thursday and would carry out random testing in all the main markets in all seven tehsils of Rawalpindi district in the next week. Attention will be given to congested areas, and shopkeepers and visitors will be tested.

The number of new Covid-19 cases is decreasing in the district, Mr Mehmood said, with two to four cases being reported daily in the last two weeks. However, the outcome of Eidul Azha will be seen in the next week, as it can take up to 14 days for people who have contracted the disease to show symptoms.

Random sampling in public areas will help experts understand the spread of the coronavirus, he said.

Adiala jail has more than 4,337 inmates, even though it has a capacity for 1,994 people. The overcrowded facility has made prisoners vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Last month, a doctor and an under-trial prisoner were diagnosed with Covid-19. The doctor had been treating a patient and the prisoner had been deployed with him when they both contracted the disease.

There are also more than 10 orphanages run by the government and private organisations in the district. Three orphanages run by the social welfare department were closed due to the pandemic, but private facilities remain open and house more than 7,000 children.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2020