LARKANA: In Pakistan, the initial spread of COVID-19 virus was brought by pilgrims from Iran via the Taftan border. To prevent its spread, authorities set up a quarantine centre there. Unfortunately, due to poor planning and negligence on the part of the government this quarantine centre did not meet its aim to control the spread of the deadly virus.
Why did this quarantine centre fail at stopping the spread of virus? Why was the government taking things so lightly? I think there were some wrong decisions made by the provincial government of Balochistan. The delay in realising the gravity of the situation and further delay in making a suitable quarantine centre caused this problem in the first place. The mismanagement of the quarantine camp only hints at the future repercussions that will follow if the situation worsens. The centre had insufficient medical care and lack of other essentials like water and food because of the delay in supply due to it being far away from towns and cities; the negligence by the government was that they were not able to consider the environment and weather implications of the Taftan area. Instead of arranging the porta-cabins and putting them under quarantine, there was no isolation among them as they were free to roam around.
The virus has now spread across the country and more than 1,000 people have already been infected. The spread could be contained if proper isolation centres are arranged in different pockets of major cities. The ones that are being infected need to be properly isolated and taken care of. The country needs testing kits to sort out the positive ones from the healthy ones.
To accommodate these numbers of people in a short time of period, the government may have to convert university or college hostels into isolations centres and all these people have to shift there with proper identification for tracking.
I urge the authorities to consider this situation with proper planning by making adequate isolation centres to fight the pandemic. Do not repeat what has been experienced in the Taftan quarantine centre.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2020.