Lyari residents turn out for walkthrough testing

With cramped living quarters, the oldest town in the city is a virus hotspot

Sameer Mandhro April 21, 2020
A street of Lyari. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: Dozens of people in Lyari visited the walk-through screening test facility for the novel coronavirus set up at Kakri Ground on Monday.

A total of 169 residents of Lyaris and Kharadar, including children, visited the facility set up by deputy commissioner (DC) Irshad Ahmed Sodhar. The facility was established on Sunday and, according to the officials, 93 persons visited the set-up on the day, while 76 were tested on Monday.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Sodhar said that there was a massive response from Lyari.  "We did not expect such a positive and encouraging turnout from Lyari," he added. "The people of the area are sensitised and coming to the venue voluntarily."

The DC said that out of three identified areas in his district, Lyari was his team's first choice for conducting coronavirus testing. He said that the facility established at Kakri Ground would remain active for some more days. "We will not move the team to another location," he added.

According to health department officials and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Lyari is one of the hotspots for the virus in the city, with a total of 85 emerging from the locality up until Monday.

Sodhar, too, confirmed to The Express Tribune that the situation in this town, the oldest in the city, was critical. He said that though a 100-bed isolation facility has already been established at the Lyari General Hospital, 100 more beds would be added to the hospital.

He also said that a 240-bed isolation facility was being established at Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital, Karachi, this week.

"The situation in Lyari is different than in posh areas of the city," he explained. "People here have small houses. Transmission is easier than in areas where citizens have bigger houses," he said, adding that Lyari's demography needs a different strategy to beat the virus.

As a result, polio teams in Lyari have started mobilising residents to go for testing voluntarily.

"I was a bit confused about where to go for the test, but thankfully it's just near my home," said Muhammad Mianji, a resident of Moosa Lane, adding that some of his relatives and neighbours have also been tested. "I am just waiting for their results."

Replying to a question, Sodhar said that those who were tested on Sunday would get their results on Tuesday. He said all the results were currently pending. "We have not started rapid testing as yet," he clarified.

He further said that two other teams would start random testing in Garden and Gizri on Tuesday (today), explaining that the teams in both these areas would frequently move around. "The aim is to provide this facility to the residents at their doorsteps."

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2020.

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