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Taftan isn’t Sukkur, Balochistan CM hits again at critics

by Pakistan Latest News Update
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PHOTO: FILE

PHOTO: FILE

QUETTA: The Balochistan chief minister on Thursday dismissed criticism over the alleged lack of services on the Taftan quarantine facility, saying that the provincial authorities’s efforts to assist hundreds of Pakistanis, most of them pilgrims, coming back from Iran throughout the novel coronavirus outbreak have to be appreciated.

In latest days, video clips displaying individuals compelled to stay in filthy situations with restricted medical care at quarantine camps in Taftan – a border city of Balochistan located about 633km from the provincial capital Quetta – and different areas of the province have gone viral on social media platforms.

A number of residents may be seen crammed inside rooms rising the danger of spreading the virus, turning the camps into breeding grounds for illness as wholesome persons are doubtlessly uncovered to contaminated ones.

The movies confirmed individuals sleeping on flooring and in corridors of everlasting buildings, and packed into tents erected in a grimy courtyard. No try has been made to separate sick pilgrims from the wholesome.

The provincial authorities has come underneath hearth on each the mainstream and social media for its poor dealing with of the individuals quarantined on the Taftan camp.

“It’s unfortunate that some analysts on mainstream media are describing Taftan as the ‘Wuhan’ [the epicenter of COVID-19 in China] of Pakistan,” Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal mentioned in a video message.

He maintained that anchorpersons, politicians and analysts on TV speak reveals weren’t taking the coronavirus state of affairs significantly.

“The virus is not produced in Taftan. In Wuhan, the virus spread within the community and then to the whole world,” he added.

“Yes, pilgrims returned from Iran and they entered Pakistan from the Taftan border after the Iranian government refused to keep them there.”

Kamal mentioned the Balochistan authorities needed to quarantine the individuals coming back from the neighbouring nation on the Taftan border.

“The pilgrims were coming from Qom and other places in Iran where the virus had spread rapidly.”

The chief minister insisted that the services on the Taftan camp shouldn’t be in contrast with the quarantine facility in Sukkur.

“Sukkur is a major city of the Sindh province and Taftan is in the middle of a desert where makeshift lodging arrangements for the pilgrims returning from Iran were the only option.”

The Sindh authorities has declared flats with round 1,000 rooms as a quarantine facility in Sukkur for the Pakistanis coming back from Iran.

“Unlike Taftan, there are Aga Khan and Indus hospitals and other medical facilities in Karachi where COVID-19 patients can easily receive medical treatment,” the chief minister mentioned.

“Anyhow, at least Balochistan received some attention because of the Taftan quarantine facility,” he added sarcastically, referring to the years of neglect and underfunding the province has suffered. “I wish Balochistan was recognised for its positive aspects too.”

Kamal elaborated that the pilgrims coming back from Iran had been quarantined in Taftan after which despatched to their respective provinces.

“No one is allowed to leave without fulfilling the health-related formalities,” he added. “Let me ask you a question,” the chief minister mentioned. “During the last 20 days, what is the figure of the Pakistanis who have returned from the US, the UK, Europe, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and the Far East? Have they been quarantined for 14 days? Are the authorities concerned testing them for COVID-19?” he went on.

“If the answer is no, then I would advise analysts that they shouldn’t worry about the Pakistanis quarantined at the Taftan camp and stop reminding us about our responsibilities.”

The chief minister famous that over 100,000 Pakistanis had returned on worldwide flights and landed in several cities. “The media should discuss about them, not Taftan.”

Chatting with AFP, former and present residents of Taftan camp on the border with Iran mentioned the power lacked working water or flushable bathrooms, with pilgrims solely in a position to wash each few days.

Authorities figures present {that a} bulk of the nation’s confirmed instances of novel coronavirus had been detected in individuals who went on pilgrimages to Iran — one of many international locations hardest-hit by the illness.

Pakistan shares a 960 kilometre border with Iran, with the primary crossing level at Taftan in Balochistan province.

“I have been using the same mask for over seven days now,” one quarantined pilgrim at Taftan, who requested to not be named, had mentioned in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

“If I didn’t have the virus when I first got here, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that I have it now.”

Iran has been scrambling to comprise COVID-19 since authorities introduced the primary two deaths final month.

The Taftan border has been closed since March 16, however hundreds of Pakistan pilgrims who had been visiting spiritual websites in Iran have been allowed to return topic to 2 weeks’ quarantine. They’re then additionally anticipated to endure spend two extra weeks in quarantine of their house cities.

Taftan was constructed years in the past particularly as a resting station for returning pilgrims, however has been overwhelmed by the crush brought on by the virus.

Witnesses mentioned individuals confined there staged protests this week to demand higher situations, whereas others simply fled. Safety forces needed to hearth warning photographs to convey issues underneath management.

Ishtiaq Hussain, a college scholar from Tehran, was a kind of who walked out of Taftan. He was by no means examined for coronavirus. He mentioned individuals had been handled “worse than animals”, usually being given “spoilt food” and left in “freezing camps with very few blankets”.

Taftan Assistant Commissioner Najeed Qambrani mentioned the camp’s distant location made it troublesome to offer facilities. “We are providing all the possible facilities,” he mentioned.

However Naimat Ali Khaki, who had stayed on the quarantine, mentioned situations had been unacceptable. “There was no cleanliness and it was so overcrowded that we were literally walking over each other,” Khaki mentioned.

He was nonetheless ready for outcomes of a coronavirus check.



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