Pir Mehr Ali Arid Agriculture University admin defies COVID-19 SOPs

  • Infected staffers presence on campus risk lives
  • Registrar refuses to comment on the alarming situation

By Hamid Khan Wazir

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: In what appears to be the most worrisome situation, at the time when Coronavirus is rampaging across the Country, the resolve to continue adhering to the dos and don’ts of the times i.e., physical distancing, wearing masks and maintaining hygiene protocol is fast flagging almost everywhere in the Country. This recklessness and ‘Caution fatigue’ led to a resurgence in Coronavirus infections, besides such behavior is negatively impacting the efforts to curb the disease.

Owing to the alarming upsurge of the deadly virus, the federal and provincial governments had to shut down all educational institutions to stem the second wave of the coronavirus. However, they were allowed to continue online classes but with strict adherence to the prescribed COVID-19 related health guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

However, ironically Pir Mehr Ali Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) administration seemed oblivious to such health precautions risking the lives of staffers and students.

A senior official wishing anonymity told this scribe that the university turned into a hot spot of Coronavirus due to non-adherence to health-related guidelines and SOPs.

The official said that the administration forced the staffers to ensure presence in the university despite symptoms.

He said that the administration is busy playing with the life of the students as well as of staffers due to the regular presence of COVID-19 infected staff on the campus.

The official said that coronavirus positive cases reported from various departments of the university including environmental sciences, economic department, agriculture, and Livestock.

The official lamented that the newly appointed Assistant Professor Muzamil was tested positive but even then he was roaming freely in the university and was mingling with the people sans any precautions or going into self-isolation, risking other lives at stake intentionally.

“The administration is so powerful and strong that no one even can dare to speak about the alarming situation due to possible ramifications,” the official added.

Owing to the bourgeoning virus cases across the Country, all educational institutions have been closed since November 26, 2020; however, the university administration asked 50 percent of staffers to ensure presence.

PhDs and MPhil students were also asked to come to the university while BS/BSc and MS/MSc students would not attend classes.

The sources said that the PhD and MPhil students would use labs, where they would be more exposed to the virus; hence proper precautions should be adopted to protect precious lives from the deadly virus.

Sources further said that cases even surfaced in the residential colony of the university; however, the admiration capped all such information.

They suggested that the administration should be asked to take precautionary steps to avert the spread of the virus in the residential colonies because foreign students are also living and if they infected it would create great problems for the university and would give bad name to the Country.

However, the seriousness of the university could be judged from the fact that a circular, which the university admin issued pertaining to the attendance of the staff, has no mention of the COVID-19 related SOPs.

The circular, a copy of which is available with this scribe, reads, “With reference to the Deans and Directors meeting held on 25.11.2020 and in reference to the prevailing situation of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, all Deans/Directors/Chairmen, Principal Officers/Head of the Sections are requested to provide the duty roaster of their staff (BPS-01 to 21) on 50% presence from 26.11.2020 to 10.01.2021 who will work on alternative days by November 26, 2020 (10:00 am) in the Office of the Registrar.”

It stated, “Further, the remaining 50% staff shall perform their tasks from home by following the policy of “work from home”. Moreover, as per decision, no faculty/staff member will leave the station without approval from his/her competent authority.” However, the circular reads, “The DPL staff will perform their duties as per requirement.

When contacted the Registrar Aqeel Sultan for his comment on the issue, instead of giving a reply, he angrily asked who gave my contact number to you.

However, when this scribe pressed him for the relevant questions about the positive cases in the university, he replied that no such information would be shared and said with the same vein that he was not authorized to speak on the issue.

To a question about the precautionary measures to safeguard staff and students, he refused to comment.

To another question about Assistant Professor Mumtaz, he even refused to recognize him and dropped the call.