ISLAMABAD         -            A worried resident of the capital, fearing he might have caught the Coronavirus, cannot apply for the test if he has no recent travel history. Even if he is sick and ill but has not traveled in the past 14 days, there is almost no chance for him to get tested whether he carries Coronavirus.  Apart from this, apparently only two hospitals of Rawalpindi and Islamabad are carrying out the tests for Coronavirus.

The authorities have not allowed any private lab or hospital in the twin cities to do tests for the Coronavirus. Amid such a situation, a huge number of worried patients are being sent back. 

Where should a resident of the capital go who fears that he might be suffering from coronavirus but at the same time has no travel history? There is no clear answer available to this question. This has been frustrating and a worrisome problem for the residents of Islamabad.

On visiting PIMS, The Nation observed that all the visiting patients - present in a section where Corona tests are being carried out - had no travel history but were concerned that they might be affected. This correspondent had a chance to have a chat with few of those people present there. Mukhtar Imtiaz, a resident of Rawalpindi, told The Nation that he was worried that his whole family might be affected but there was no way the hospital was carrying their tests. 

On asking about the reason why he feels that he might be sick and might be a carrier of Coronavirus, Mukhtar replied that his son has a huge social circle and has been visiting a lot of people who recently came from abroad. Additionally, he told that that his son got flu followed by his wife. Therefore, he was concerned that they might have caught the virus, Mukhtar said. 

Another patient Zulfiqar stressed that the authorities should test every patient who thinks he is ill. The patient further said that the disease has already entered the streets of Pakistan, therefore it is better to carry tests today than doing the same thing tomorrow when it is late and also less effective or progressive.

This scribe also visited Ali Medical and Islamabad Diagnostic Centre (both in F-8) to see if they are carrying the tests or receiving any patients.

On entering Ali Medical, this correspondent observed that there were no tests being carried out there. Muhammad Ali, the receptionist, said that no tests were being carried out as there was no such command given to them by the authorities of the capital. On asking if the government has restricted them from carrying the tests of Coronavirus, Ali refused to reply and told that only the owner or Director of the respective hospital could answer that question.

A similar response was given when this correspondent went to Islamabad Diagnostic Centre, F-8. The Nation also contacted Agha Khan Hospital, Shaukat Khanam Hospital, City Labs, Exel Labs, etc. However, none of them was carrying the tests for Coronavirus but each one of them was receiving worried patients who were referred to either PIMS or NIH.

Allergy Specialist, Dr. Osman Yusuf stressed that the public health measures should be beefed up by the authorities to prevent the spread of the virus as it has already entered Pakistan. He further briefed that the testing should be carried out in every standardised lab in the country so that the public can have easy access to the tests. 

According to him, this restricted way of testing was a very loose shot played by the authorities in battling this emerging Coronavirus.

Instead of shutting down all the gathering points and places where huge crowds gather, the authorities of the capital have decided to close the malls and major markets like F-7 and F-6 at 10 pm instead of 11 pm. How can we prevent the spread of Coronavirus by closing the main markets and malls one hour earlier? Yusuf wondered.

Ayesha Imtiaz, a resident of I-8, said that the authorities should close all the malls so that people could become less vulnerable to the disease as hundreds gather in the big shopping areas.