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Thursday Jul 02 2020
Web Desk

Face masks, hand sanitizers and COVID-19 tests a 'luxury' for slum dwellers

Web Desk
Residents demand the government make arrangements to carry out tests of the area free of cost. Photo: The News

ISLAMABAD: As coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in the country, slum dwellers seem to be helpless against the threat of the COVID-19 as they battle the epidemic without resources nor the knowledge on how to protect themselves to fight the pandemic.

Azeem Alphonse, who lives in slum area located in F-7 sector, said the medical experts advise the people to wear face masks and use hand sanitizers but how can the dwellers who live in such kind of conditions afford this ‘luxury’.

“The rate of single face mask is Rs30 and I have a wife and three children, which means I need Rs150 to buy these masks for my family. We don’t have even enough water to frequently wash our hands with soap as being advised by the medical experts,” he said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the federal climate change ministry launched a pilot phase ‘Pakistan COVID-19 Urban Slums Response Programme’ (PCUSRP). It planned to raise funds from the National Disaster Risk Management Fund and other donor agencies for expanding the programme countrywide to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in the slum areas.

Another resident Samuel Loyll said a non-governmental organisation distributed face masks, soaps and hand sanitizers among them a few weeks back but, thereafter, no one provided any kind of assistance to them.

He said, “We never think about testing because how can it be possible for us to pay thousands of rupees to the private laboratories at the time when we are facing unemployment due to lockdowns and pandemic.”

The government should make arrangements to carry out tests of this slum area free of cost so that it comes to know the real situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus disease, he said.

He added they need the community support to fight this pandemic because they lack basic amenities of life let alone taking precautionary measures advised by the government.

Originally published in The News