A Reuters representational image.

Quarantine centre inmates demand ‘taste of outside’

Want spicy food and access to wifi to kill time

Imran Asghar April 20, 2020
RAWALPINDI: Locked inside one of the six quarantine centres lest they manifest symptoms of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), some 200 people have been left hankering for a taste of the world outside. Having nothing to kill their boredom, these people have started demanding that the authorities managing the centres provide them with access to the internet and spicy and well-seasoned meals, as found in the city.

Officials at some of these isolation facilities said that they had recently received several expatriates have returned from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries.

As a precaution, they were first shifted to a quarantine facility where they will be tested - if displaying symptoms - and complete their mandatory isolation period following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) identified by the government.

As a result, many do not have their local subscriber identity modules (SIMs) with them, nor can they go out to the market to purchase local sims to connect with loved ones.

An official working at one isolation facility, who requested not to be named since he was not authorised to speak to the media,  told The Express Tribune that over 200 isolated people, who have arrived from abroad,  have started demanding piquant meals instead of the comparatively bland, non-spicy but hygienically prepared food

“They refuse to eat the healthy and balanced meals being provided to them,” he said.

Many inmates contended that they are tired of eating the same food every day, and argued that their demand was legitimate.

Further, they asked the government to install wifi devices in the isolation centres so that they can at least connect with their families.

“Most of us were shifted here [to the quarantine facility] right from the airport. We did not have the time to buy a local sim to use the internet,” a quarantined person said. He complained that in the absence of the internet facility, they are unable to connect with their families and friends or learn what is going on in the world.

The district administration, though, has started mulling on providing wifi facilities or arrange to engage inmates in other healthy activities which can help beat boredom.

However, he took strong exception to provide isolated people with spicy food. He contended that a healthy diet was necessary to protect them against the virus as it was designed to strengthen their immune system.

To cope with this situation, the official said that the government considering hiring psychologists to maintain peace and order in the quarantine centres.


Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2020.


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