Written by

Hamza Shafqaat

Officer of Pakistan Administrative Service (Erstwhile DMG). Did engineering then MPhil Public Policy.Got training in GB&FATA.Served in Sindh now Islamabad

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DC Islamabad’s Tireless Efforts to Curb COVID-19 Despite Being in Isolation Due to the Virus [Interview]

Here’s How DC Islamabad Has Been Working to Curb COVID-19 Despite Being in Isolation Due to the Virus

1.       First of all, how’re you doing and how’re you coping with your disease? How difficult or severe has been your case?

Thank you so much for asking, Alhumdulillah I much better now. I had mild symptoms, it was not such a sever case. The new variant of the virus has different symptoms to what we have seen earlier. In my case, the virus affected my stomach. Alhumdulillah I am feeling much better now.

2.       How have you been managing work from your quarantine?

All the meetings were conducted through Zoom and majority of the work was handled through WhatsApp. The file work arrived at my house and after working on the paper work, I used to properly sanitize it before sending it back to the office. But majority of my work was done through the phone.

3.       Have you been vaccinated yet?

No, I have not been vaccinated yet. Apart from frontline health workers only people over the age of 60 can get vaccinated in the country currently. I will get vaccinated once the vaccine is available to my age group.

4.       Is the ongoing 3rd wave of Covid any worse than the previous two?

Third wave is definitely more dangerous than the previous two. The symptoms of the third wave are different from the first two and it’s speed of spread is also much more fast. Just like I contracted the viruses, although I try to follow the SOPs, but there may have been a mistake on my part which led to me contracting the virus.

The most important factor is that the people are not complying with the SOPs anymore. In the first two waves, people were scared of the virus and followed the protocols but this time around their attitudes have changed which has led to a high number of cases.

5.       Is Islamabad responding positively to your advice and recommendations?

Generally, the public in Islamabad have responded positively to our advice but the third wave caught everyone by surprise. The infection rate in the city was at an all time high, with 12% people contracting the virus. We decided to implement strong measures which has led to flatten the curve somewhat.

There are many businesses that have been affected due to lockdowns previously and to control them has been a challenge but rest of the public has been following the SOPs.

But still somehow our society does have a careless attitude and they are not following the protocols as they should be.

6.       Business community has already suffered gravely due to Covid. Are we looking at more business closures?

We have already allowed businesses to carry out their operations if they are complying with the Covid-19 protocols. For example, Wedding halls which have complied to the protocols, such as having a two hour function with less than 300 guests in open air have been allowed to operate.

The real problem is the shops and restaurants that are not complying with the SOPs, then stringent measures have been taken.

It was also not possible for the universities and schools to comply with the Covid-19 protocols, hence we decided to shut them down.

7.       Masses are hardly following any SOPs. How do we have to make them practice safe living without taking harsh measures?

Masses will only follow once they have the knowledge about the seriousness of the virus. Media has a very important role to play in creating awareness in the masses, the third wave of Covid-19 should be the main focus of are media channels in order to notify the public about the seriousness of the situation.

Once this topic is not highlighted anymore then the public will not cater to the situation. It is the responsibility of our teams, the media and social media platforms to raise awareness about the issue.

We have recently carried out a massive campaign in order to create awareness and remind people to follow the SOPs. We have also taken serious action against the businesses that are not adhering to the protocols, over the past four five days we have closed around 500 shops, made arrests, imposed fines and implemented smart lockdowns. Slowly, the people are starting to realize the seriousness of the situation.

8.       Now that the vaccines have arrived, could this current wave be the last one?

Vaccines will still take some time. We are expecting that this wave will continue for some time, especially the month of April is going to be very crucial.

It is good to get yourself vaccinated but SOPs still have to be adhered to tackle the current wave. Vaccination is not the only answer, we still haven’t been able to eradicate Polio from our society although the vaccines have been available since 1980s.

Similarly, this vaccine will also take some time. We will try our best to help eradicate Covid-19 from our society.

9.   Any message for the people of twin cities?

Wear your mask, sanitize your hands and observe social distancing. My message to the people of the twin cities will be to keep following these three things over the next few months.

My request to the people of the twin cities is to please avoid weddings and funerals, send only one member of your family if required, avoid public gatherings and save yourself from the disease.

Covid-19 is not something to joke about, it is not just any other disease, it brings a lot of trauma with it. The cost of the treatment is too high and it is better to prevent than to cure.

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