Old City of Hyderabad is greater sufferer in pandemic times

Syed Hurairah

Hyderabad: The Old City of Hyderabad is reeling under the effects of the COVID – 19 pandemic. Residents of the area and government-released data show that it is imperative to ramp up healthcare infrastructure. Sample this: out of the 23 private hospitals which have been authorized to treat patients who have been diagnosed as coronavirus positive, only two are in this area, and are barely two kilometres apart.

Despite the fact the Telangana government has asked families of coronavirus positive patients to take them to either Gandhi Hospital, District Hospital in King Kothi and the Osmania General Hospital, several family members of patients are more inclined to rush them to private hospitals. This is on account of either the proximity of these private hospitals to their homes or the lack of faith in government infrastructure.

Telangana on Saturday saw 1,850 positive cases as well. The total number of active cases rose to 22,312.

It is interesting to note that of these 23 government-approved hospitals, the affluent parts of the city such as Jubilee Hills, Banjara Hills and Somajiguda combined have eight hospitals with isolation facilities.

“In the first few week of the lockdown, we read about the deaths in newspapers. Now, it is as if every person knows somebody who is affected with coronavirus or has died. We are also seeing a lot of funerals lately. There should be more government healthcare facilities for coronavirus patients in the Old City. Area hospitals should have coronavirus treatment facilities. Old City has several clusters of slums. Ideally, those living in these slums in Talabkatta, and have tested positive should be isolated in Bahadurpura Area Hospital or Barkas Area Hospital. I don’t know why this is not being done,” said Khaja Saleemuddin, a resident of the Old City.

The lack of infrastructure in the Old City is seen in COVID – 19 testing facilities too. If one is to read the notice issued by the Office of the Director of Public Health and Family Welfare on private testing facilities, there are 18 such centres. Of these, none are in the Old City. Again, many of these are located in the more affluent areas such as Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills and Gachibowli.

In an indication of the acute severity of the issue, the 10-acres of the Fakeer Mulla Qabristan, which was designated for COVID-19 burials, has seen dozens of bodies being buried. The figure is around 130 burials.

The only sample collection centre in the Old City in the Nizamia Tibbi Hospital near Charminar. However, this is not a lab or a testing centre. Only samples are taken here.

The Old City is home to a lakhs of residents which comprise a substantial number those living within the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. In a tweet on 25th June, Hyderabad’s Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi shared information that Charminar area alone has 1,257 cases. This is second after Khairtabad which has 2,354 cases. It is against this backdrop that the need for more testing centres, both government and private, as well as treatment and isolation facilities have to be set up.

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