ISLAMABAD-The public sector hospitals of the city are again considering extending the closure of Outdoor Patient Departments for one month due to possible high risk of novel coronavirus spread from the facilities, The Nation learnt on Saturday.

Two days ago, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration had directed hospitals to lift the ban from the closure of the OPDs of the public sector hospitals in the city.

Officials at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) informed The Nation that a meeting of all heads of departmentwas held here and chaired by the Executive Director Prof. Dr.AnsarMaxood.

Officials said that a majority of HoDs recommended extending the closure of OPDs for at least one month to reduce the risk of COVD-19 spread from the OPDs.

“It was agreed in the meeting that the spread control from the hospital is possible with the closure of OPDs,” said anHoD who attended the meeting.

Officials said that HoDs and consultants said in the meeting that the hospital emergency is working properly to provide healthcare to serious patients being received there.

They also said that the telemedicine system launched by Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU) is also operational while the opening of OPDs at this stage will increase the virus spread risk.

Officials also said that the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) is also not in favour of the opening of OPDs and has given the nod to the hospital administration to extend the closure of OPDs.

Spokesperson All Employees PIMS Restoration Movement (AEPRM) Dr.Asfandyar Khan talking to The Nation viewed that on technical grounds opening of the OPD will increase the virus spread risk.

He said that all the healthcare professionals should be also given Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for their safety if the OPDs are made fully functional.

Officials also said that the health professionals including doctors, nurses and paramedics are also reluctant in working in current circumstances as OPDs could be high risk areas for the virus spread.

PIMS Coordinator Dr.WaseemKhawaja talking to The Nation said that OPDs of peads, cardiology and gynae were functional on Friday but were closed on Saturday.

He also said that the surgical OPD is also closed due to construction work.

Dr.Waseem said that PIMS received more than 10,000 patients daily in OPDs and indeed there is a chance of virus spread from OPDs.

Meanwhile, Federal Government Services (FGS) Polyclinic hospital spokesperson Dr.Imtiaz Ahmed also said that no decision has been taken so far regarding the opening of the OPDs.

He also said that the hospital has opened its dispensaries, however, decision regarding opening of the OPDs will be taken in next week.

“It’s a risk involved regarding the spread of disease from OPDs,” said Dr.Imtiaz. Meanwhile, he also said that the hospital is also devising a mechanism of maintaing a distance also between patients and doctors visiting OPDs.

Dr.Imtiaz Ahmed also said that the hospital conducted COVID-19 tests of its 126 staff members including doctors, nurses and paramedics and five were tested positive.

He said that a nurse of the hospital hasalso been tested positive with COVID-19.

According to the National Command and Control Center, the number of COVID-19 patients in Islamabad has surged to 113 including six new patients added in last 24 hours.