ISLAMABAD - The inclusive steps taken by ‘Panahgahs’ (shelter homes) management have started yielding positive results as not a single case of the coronavirus has been reported from such crowded places so far, mainly due to massive sensitization of its dwellers about key preventive measures such as wearing of masks, hand-washing and social distancing.

“Since the start of pandemic in Pakistan, a proactive approach has been adopted to protect the lives of ‘panahgahs’ dwellers who are more prone to contract the virus due to their pre-existing medical conditions,” Prime Minister’s Focal Person on ‘Panahgahs’ Naseemur Rehman told the media here at ‘Tarlai Shelter Home’ on Sunday. Located at the federal capital’s outskirts, ‘Tarlai Shelter Home’ is amongst the six ‘Panahgahs’ of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which serves over 200 daily wagers every day by providing to them two times meal and overnight stay. “In a quick response to the coronavirus threat, a comprehensive campaign, titled, ‘Keep Panahgahs Clean’ has been launched in the twin cities to transform these shelter homes from the centres serving food and shelter into the centres promoting healthy life styles as well,” he said while highlighting the management’s major initiative. Under the campaign, he said, politicians, members of the civil society, private sector and affluent community members were being approached to procure soaps, sanitizers, gloves and masks for the shelter homes’ beneficiaries, who had been increasing with each passing day due to the reopening of construction and other sectors.

Along with providing food and shelter, Naseem said, strong messages about promoting healthy lifestyle were being disseminated to a group of long neglected, low-income migrant labour. Under the drive, he said, out-reach teams were formed which had been holding face-to-face interaction with the shelter homes’ beneficiaries who were more vulnerable to contract the virus due to their minimal exposure to print and electronic media.

The teams, consisting of volunteers, had been giving practical demonstration to the visitors at Panahgahs about mask wearing, personal hygiene and use of soap and sanitizers, he added.

The service providers and Saylani team members, who work hand in hand at the Langar Khanas (food distribution centres) and ‘Panahgahs’ were being sensitized on COVID-19 precautions regularly to promote the norms of hand-washing and social distancing, which were the most needed preventive measures against the global pandemic.

Naseem said medical equipment was being supplied to all six shelter homes regularly to avert the virus outbreak at these facilities. “Besides that, hand-washing booths have also been set up at almost every shelter home of the twin cities with the help of private sector,” he informed.

Pointing out a novel way to create awareness in people about the coronavirus, he said large-sized radios were installed at each ‘Panahgah’ to directly communicate the health messages to daily wage earners who were less-educated.

Special programmes on the COVID-19 were produced to broadcast on those radios daily, he concluded.