Karachi mask boy motorcycle Pakistan
A boy wears a protective face mask as he rides on a motorcycle with a member of his family along a road, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Karachi, Pakistan July 7, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) and the Health Directorate of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) are involving churches and minority members of the Urban Union Councils to convince slum-dwellers of the federal capital to get themselves tested for coronavirus.

There are 32 slums in Islamabad where more than 60,000 inhabitants, mostly Christians, live. Majority of these slum-dwellers — nurses, paramedics, low-income workers — work in local hospitals or in CDA and MCI as sanitary workers or do private jobs.

While talking to Gulf News, Sheikh Ansar Aziz, Mayor of Islamabad, said the decision to involve churches and minority councillors of MCI was taken after experiencing resistance from these slum-dwellers to undergo coronavirus tests.

For various reasons — including fear of social boycott or apprehension that in case they test positive they will be moved to hospitals “from where no one returns alive” — these slum-dwellers are reluctant to get themselves tested.

We have requested the clergy to convey this point in their sermons and meetings with locals that coronavirus tests are in their interest and in the interest of their families, the mayor further said.

Members of the minority community and public representatives from these areas have been requested to launch a door-to-door campaign to address the concerns in this regard, he added.

The ‘fear’ factor

According to DG Health CDA, Dr Hasan Urooj, it was really an issue that people did not want to get themselves tested — even for free.

“We had planned to conduct more than 300 tests till date, but we have not been able to carry out even 100 tests because of the severe resistance from the residents of slums. They fear that in case of positive results, they would be arrested. “Moreover, there is a misconception that the government is getting a huge amount (international aid) in return for each positive case,” he added.

Less than 3,000 new cases in a day

Pakistan on Tuesday witnessed a drop in new cases of coronavirus as 2,691 confirmed cases were reported in a day. This is the first time in a period of two months that the number of new cases in a 24-hour time span has dropped to this low. According to data from the Health Ministry, a total of 24,577 tests for coronavirus were conducted in the country.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the country are reported to be at 234,510 while 4,839 deaths were recorded (77 deaths in the last 24 hours). The total number of recoveries stood at 134,957.