How to lose the corona war

.. by Islamuddin

After six weeks self isolation I ventured out today to visit my school which I had handed over to local administration the day before to house corona suspects coming home from down country and who were facing difficulties in the quarantine facilities elsewhere where the standard of their upkeep was either not according to approved SOPs or had run out of capacity. On visiting the school to see the condition of the new inmates I was appalled to observe that neither the quarantined individuals nor their protectors had paid heed to the minimum requirements of corona SOPs. An HIV positive case has also been quarantined with corona suspects in the same premise and they were freely mingling with each other. Earlier reportedly a cancer patient was quarantined in Chitral disregarding his special needs. It was after he made online appeal that without medication and restricted food he would die, did the administration and AKHSP came to his rescue. Hopefully he would now be looked after well. I hope we are not spreading corona under the garb of quarantine, the way we did in Taftan. The impression being popularized by religious circles that prayer congregations would not spread corona should be reminded that Islam prefers sanctity of human life over everything else and that is why even Khana-i-Kaba has been kept out of bound. It is no secret that few corona hotspots trace their origin to religious congregations, be it Islam, Christianity or Hinduism.

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Given the current level of preparedness and pressures on Government resources in quarantine facilities it would be advisable to keep these suspects under quarantine in their own homes. Every household in the area has at least one guest room where they can be quarantined. Corona Relief Tigers and Ismaili Scouts can be utilized to give necessary awareness to families about the corona care protocols. Only those cases should be shifted to hospitals which need special medication possibly involving use of ventilator. Apart from these special need patients, others normal patients can recover fairly quickly in isolation facilities in their homes or community facilities. The Government cannot do it alone given the routine lethargic way with which it grapples with the novel outbreak. The entire communities and civil society organizations may be mobilized to wage effective war on corona. The present strategy at least in the operational level appears to be more part of the problem than solution. If timely remedial actions are not taken we may see more cases coming out of these so-called quarantine facilities.
After observing one quarantine centre I came across a senior doctor of THQ hospital and requested him to shift the HIV patient to his hospital. He promised to look into the matter. With regard to the preparedness of his hospital to take in corona patients, he said that there was none and everything would have to be started from the scratch. There are no PPEs and other related equipments to treat corona patients. Special corona allowance being paid to health workers elsewhere was not being paid to the THQ staff which was a disincentive for health professionals handling corona patients. Fortunately there is no serious corona patients in the area at present and the few diagnosed cases are being kept in secondary and tertiary hospitals in down country. However once these hospitals are overwhelmed they might turn away corona patients advising them to approach their own THQ hospital. Our THQ hospital has already been outsourced to AKHSP where treatment is not free and if the Government does not subsidize treatment in the THQ many would die without getting medical care. There are worries about the health hazards in the vacated premises once the outbreak is over. An administration official told me that according to his information as of now there was no provision to disinfect these premises before handing them over to owners. Naturally building owners will have to pay the cost of disinfecting and wear and tear that these premises will incur. This is a huge problem that should be looked into for compensation as corona affected.

Although it is not topical but relevant that corona relief funds have been disbursed to none entitled people in many cases. These lists may be revisited and revised to accommodate the deserving only. Those who drew the money through misrepresentation or connivance may be obliged to return the funds for payment to the deserving. .. Islamuddin, Garm Chashma, Chitral 27 Apr 2020

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