Lonely iftars for hundreds of Pakistanis fasting in quarantine centers

Monitoring Desk

LAHORE: For Allah Rakhi, 70, quarantined at Mayo Hospital Lahore, lonely evenings during iftar this Ramadan are occupied with thoughts of her family.

Nine members of Allah Rakhi’s family tested positive for coronavirus in Lahore’s Sikandria Colony last month after 42 cases surfaced in the same neighborhood, leading authorities to completely lock the area down. Women and young children were taken to the government owned Mayo Hospital while the men were transported to a facility established at a massive convention center in the city.

“All my family… two sons, one daughter, two daughters-in-law and grandsons used to break the fast sitting together in the lawn of our house. Now I am confined here and do not know where my loved ones are,” Allah Rakhi told Arab News via telephone on Sunday.

During Ramadan, a majority of Pakistan’s Muslims traditionally sit together with their families to break their fasts at sunset– but with many households separated in different quarantine facilities around the city, there is little of the customary familial spirit.

Meanwhile, doctors at Lahore’s government owned Services hospital said there was no bar on quarantined patients fasting, as long as it did not worsen their condition.

“A person in quarantine may fast if his body permits, but if his health deteriorates due to fasting, he must not. Medically a person in quarantine can fast and there is no medical bar on him or her,” Dr. Saleem Shehzad, the hospital’s medical superintendent, told Arab News.

“We provide food to those willing to fast,” he added.

“My grandmother, uncles, aunties and cousins are keeping fasts. At Sehri time we eat what the administration gives us and break the fast with water and dates,” Ghulam Mustafa told Arab News.

Mustafa is one of two teenaged boys who have been granted permission to leave for home after spending two weeks in quarantine at Mayo Hospital and testing negative.

On Sunday, with 638 new patients, the number of people infected with coronavirus in Punjab reached 7,494 with the highest number in the eastern city of Lahore with 2,476 patients.

With quarantine centers set up at different hospitals, the provincial government’s biggest facility is set up at convention space Expo center, catering to the needs of 1,000 people in three halls or blocks.

In block C, out of a total 350 quarantined individuals, over 300 are fasting during Ramadan with the administration providing them with parathas, chicken curry, yogurt and tea served at Suhoor and with biryani, sweet rice, samosas and pakoras served at Iftar.

“The administration is providing sehri and iftari to those who wish to fast but we are missing our families. Breaking fast with the families is a blessing and we are missing that,” tearful prayer leader, Qari Abdur Rasheed told Arab News.

“Pray to God our test results come back negative and we can join our families.”

Courtesy: (Arabnews)