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November 21, 2020

Islamabad’s Covid-19 scene: Housing colonies in Loi Bher area principal spreader of coronavirus

National

November 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The large number of densely populated private and cooperatives housing towns and societies in the Loi Bher area of the federal capital are contributing a majority of the Covid-19 cases to Islamabad’s health facilities.

Apart from Loi Bher, the I-8, G-6 and G-10 sectors of the capital, as well as Rawat, have been found to be hotspots for the spread of the virus. Targeted lockdowns have been introduced in some streets in these areas.

“We are keeping a watch on the fast-spreading coronavirus cases from the housing colonies of Loi Bher,” Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqat told The News when contacted. He said the capital’s health system was now better equipped to cope with the pandemic compared to the previous phase. The most essential element, he said, is that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) are strictly followed and implemented. He was, however, conscious of the fact that some people were not very keen on abiding by the SOPs.

While prominent medical experts have warned of the increased severity of the second wave, Hamza Shafqat said that the capital has almost the same death rate as earlier, which is quite low compared to other areas of Pakistan. Also, the positivity rate is similar to that in the past.

A number of expensive private hospitals, that have set up dedicated Covid-19 wards, are charging an exorbitant amount from patients. There is no check on their rates as the Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority (IHRA), created more than two years ago, continues to be dysfunctional. As a result, patients are at the mercy of these private health facilities, having no option but to shell out what is demanded.

All the private hospitals immediately refuse to admit Covid-19 patients saying they have no vacant beds. However, the data provided by the deputy commissioner told a different story – every hospital in the capital has some beds available. A health professional suggested that the Islamabad administration needs to issue stern orders to the private medical facilities not to decline admissions when they have vacant beds.

As of November 19, data shows that the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) had 3,790 active cases with a total of 266 deaths so far. This tally is going up every day. The deputy commissioner said that when the first phase hit Pakistan, the ICT had only 30 beds for Covid-19 patients while there are 300 beds available now.

Several patients admitted in Islamabad’s government and private hospitals belong to other areas with their relatives transporting them to the capital believing that Islamabad has better facilities. Meanwhile, the ICT administration has imposed section 144 for all kinds of social gatherings, has ordered the closure of unnecessary shops, shopping malls, parks, schools, religious seminaries, daycare centres and other public areas to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

The overall supervision and coordination of the Covid-19 situation lies with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination and the National Disaster Management Authority. Islamabad’s District Health Office & Directorate of Health Services of the Metropolitan Corporation have constituted Rapid Response Units (RRUs) for transferring patients to quarantine facilities and hospitals.

The RRUs also conduct disinfection activities. The SOPs for RRUs, taxis/cabs, safe burial, case management and shops have been issued. On the administration’s request, the Pakistan Army has also been requisitioned in aid of the civil administration.

The supply of essential commodities to the capital is being ensured. Hamza Shafqat said that as a result of the efforts of the ICT administration, sufficient supply of all essential commodities, including wheat flour, has been ensured. The administration through its consumer App ‘Drust Dam’ is facilitating the residents of the capital in getting essential commodities at their doorstep. The administration has also notified 24 shops for free home delivery of essential commodities.