ISLAMABAD                   -                 The city administration on Tuesday decided to open the Outdoor Patients Department (OPDs) of the hospitals despite having over 100 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in hospitals in the city.

Hospitals of the city remained closed for two weeks to avoid the possible spread of COVID-19 transmission from hospital OPDs.

The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) following the directions of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration had closed its OPD on March 24.

The Federal Government Services (FGS) Polyclinic hospital had also closed OPD services on March 29 after COVI-19 was confirmed in two of its healthcare professionals.

Both major hospitals of the city were catering around 15,000 patients daily in their OPDs.

However, the ICT administration decided to lift the ban on OPD services after two weeks of imposition and at a time when the number of COVID-19 patients in federal city has surged over 100.

The notification issued by ICT in this regard said that “in the wake of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) the ICT administration has imposed Section 144 Cr.P.C vide order no. 1 (1).HC (G)-2020 dated 24.03.2020 which inter alia entails suspension of OPDS of all hospitals in Islamabad. Keeping in view the difficulties faced by general public and patients in getting medical assistance, the ban imposed for the closure of OPDs is hereby lifted with immediate effect.”

It also said that however, the hospital management shall strictly abide by notified SOP dated 24.03.2020 and other instructions issued subsequently from time to time regarding compulsory precautions, restrictions and directions for social distancing.

The notification also added “furthermore, the guidelines regarding disinfection, sanitization and hygiene would be ensured.”

Meanwhile, a statement released by All Employees PIMS Restoration Movement (AEPRM) spokesperson Dr. Asfandyar Khan said that the directions passed by Supreme Court (SC) regarding opening of OPDs is welcomed, however, all health professionals must be also provided Personal Protection Equipment for their safety.

“Our request will be to ensure safety of all health professional by providing Personal Protection Equipment and N95 masks and hand sanitizer to each and every health worker working in hospitals,” he said.

 AEPRM also suggested that as OPD can be source of major transmission of COVID-19, so there must be a protocol for patients visiting the OPD.

It said that one attendant should come with one patient and appointment should be made on telephone.

It also added that there must be a separate isolation hospital in each district so that other hospital can work smoothly for non-corona patients.

Earlier, PIMS ED had announced shutting down OPD for three months. PIMS ED had stated that the OPD will be closed for three months and serious patients will be examined in emergency.

“This has been decided due to rapidly changing situation of COVID-19,” he said.

He had informed that the 10-bed isolation ward is being upgraded to 29-bed facility and further number of beds will be added in upcoming days.