Move designed to reduce burden on government-run isolation facilities in the face of rapid spread of coronavirus
The Punjab government on Sunday announced it was granting permission to coronavirus patients with minor symptoms to isolate themselves at their homes—provided certain guidelines were followed to ensure the virus does not spread within communities.
In a notification, the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department said its guidelines were based on recommendations from the Corona Expert Advisory Group and Technical Working Group.
Announcing the measures, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said the government’s guidelines had been developed after taking into consideration the standard operating procedures outlined by the World Health Organization. He said that buildings in which patients would be kept in home isolation would be disinfected daily, adding that solid waste would also be disposed of in accordance with provided guidelines.
Clarifying that home isolation would not be allowed in cases where there was any danger of the virus spreading due to centralized cooling and heating systems, he said isolated patients would also be required to consume food with disposable utensils only.
According to the chief minister, the government would form home isolation committees comprising officials nominated by regional deputy commissioners to decide on which cases did not merit quarantine. Three committees would be constituted in every urban union council for this purpose, with a doctor included in every committee. One committee would be constituted in every rural union council, he said. Family members of infected patients seeking home isolation would be informed about the required SOPs before being granted permission.
Staff members of the population welfare, livestock and excise and taxation departments would monitor and reporting on home isolation patients, he said, adding that any patient kept in home isolation would be bound to inform authorities about their condition on a daily basis.
Patients who are not being kept in home isolation would be put up in buildings equipped with essential facilities under the supervision of the district health authority, said Buzdar. He said such patients could be placed in any buildings with necessary facilities such as hotels, schools, mosques, hostels and community centers.
Punjab currently has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan at 11,568, with 197 deaths and 4,323 recoveries. The province currently has 7,048 active cases of the virus. Doctors have warned that if the spread of the virus continues at the same rate, the province could soon run out of facilities to treat all patients.