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May 29, 2020

COVID-19 cases discovered during contact tracing of patients

National

May 29, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Dozens of new COVID-19 positive cases are detected by authorities during contact tracing of a single coronavirus patient.

“Twenty/thirty new cases crop up when we trace the contacts of a positive COVID-19 patient in the Islamabad Capital Territory after getting them tested,” federal capital’s Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat told The News, when contacted. “I believe the situation is not different in other cities and towns.”

As per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), when the administration receives the report of a new patient, it starts tracking down his/her contacts the ill person has been in touch with over the past few days. It is also established where – participation in funeral rites, family gathering or elsewhere - he was struck by the COVID-19.

Hamza Shafqaat said that the original patient is comprehensively interviewed by the specially trained medical staff about the contacts he has had over a week or so. “Then, we go after such people and find that a number of them have been hit by the virus.”

He said that the special “nerve centre” that the Islamabad administration has set up for response to the pandemic receives on daily basis the positive test reports from the private laboratories, which have been instructed to share them with it. This enables authorities to have a clear picture about the tests being conducted by the private labs and those found positive, allowing it to mobilise requisite resources to handle the situation.

Side by side with the contact tracing, all the family members of the patient, who have been living with him, are immediately got tested for COVID-19, and those found positive are asked to isolate themselves or moved to hospitals.

In the clinical decision, it is determined whether a patient is serious and needs to be admitted in hospital. He is immediately shifted to the medical facility if his condition is serious because of the respiratory issue. The doctors also see whether the patient was suffering from seasonal disease. Others patients are advised to quarantine themselves at their homes. Those who don’t have the isolation facility at their residences because of the space shortage are removed to any of the three isolation centres established at the Pak-China Centre, Oil & Gas Development Corporation Limited rest house and Haji Camp.

Like several other organisations tackling the pandemic, the Islamabad administration too has scarce resources and is under tremendous immense financial strain. It has the capacity to handle fifty new cases on daily basis but it feels incapacitated to cope with the situation when the tally shoots up that level. Already, the number of new patients every day has crossed the figure.

In a tweet, Hamza Shafqaat said while receiving donation from an organisation that the administration is trying its best to fulfil the requirements in this pandemic, but it's not possible without the help of organisations, which are supporting us generously. “We thank them for their contribution.”

There has been a huge spike in the new virus cases because of the end of the lockdown on the occasion of the Eidul Fitr. The surge has prevailed upon government leaders to give a thought to reinforcing strict lockdown once again. At least three figures including Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Dr Zafar Mirza have repeatedly warned that lockdown would be clamped if the people continue to flout the SOPs.

Reports are pouring in from various parts of the country that in view of the exponential rise in the virus patients, the health system was close to being overwhelmed while the disease is yet to touch the peak in Pakistan. At the same time, alarm bells have been sounded by top health experts that even in areas where the curve has been flattened and is seeing a downward slide, a second wave may hit any time.

In most countries of the world as well in Pakistan, the considered opinion of the top health professionals has been ignored when they have been calling for strict lockdown, citing the China model that did wonders in less than three months. It is stated that China would face a monumental disaster had it not locked down the first hotspot. Most nations have not learnt any lesson from this paradigm.