KARACHI: To contain the spread of Covid-19 in Sindh, the provincial government has made it mandatory for all travellers from abroad to quarantine themselves in the Labour Square building of Karachi. Meanwhile, those who can afford lodging expenses are being sent to different hotels for the purpose.
Per sources, travellers who test negative for the disease are sent home after staying under observation for 24 hours, whereas coronavirus positive patients are being shifted to the Karachi Expo Centre isolation facility.
The Sindh government has selected hotel Ramada Plaza, the airport hotel, and several other hotels for the stay of the travellers. Those staying in their preferred hotels are being charged Rs8,000 to Rs13,000 per day for three meals, while those sent to the Labour Square building are provided free food and lodging.
Once swab test samples are collected and sent to the laboratory, all travellers are required to stay in mandatory quarantine for 24 to 48 hours and wait for their reports.
Health department officials have been deputed at the airport, the hotels, and Labour Square. Around 18 staff members of the health department work in a single shift, including nine doctors. A medical camp has also been set up within the premises of the Ramada Plaza.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the focal person for Covid-19 in Sindh said that the travellers who wish to stay in quarantine for 24 to 48 hours in the hotels of their choices are closely monitored so that they cannot leave the premises or change hotels until the results of their tests are obtained.
The hotel and health department staff deployed to monitor the travellers have also been provided with the essential personal protective equipment (PPEs). The focal person said that all staff members are regularly checked for symptoms, while food is supplied to the travellers in disposable tableware. Other items used by them, including bed sheets, pillow covers, and towels, are discarded daily.
“We have made sure that all housekeeping items are also disposed of after one-time use. That apart, we have made the use of PPEs mandatory, while rooms and hotels are also being sprayed with disinfectants every six hours,” he said.
Since April 21, travellers returning from foreign countries have been staying in various hotels. So far, 50 travellers have tested positive for Covid-19 and were promptly shifted to the Expo Centre isolation facility in an ambulance.
“Even though we have allowed travellers who have tested negative to go home after 24 hours, we have told them not to meet anyone and self-isolate at home in case they develop symptoms later on,” he said.
He further shared that per the directives of the government, screening of the travellers and the mandatory 48-hours stay in quarantine are being strictly implemented.
“After getting off the flights, all travellers have to pass through a thermal scanner while exiting the airport, where staff from the provincial health department, the federal government, and the Civil Aviation Authority are also deployed,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2020.