A Rescue 1122 worker scans employees at Civil Secretariat, Peshawar, on Thursday for coronavirus. — White Star
A Rescue 1122 worker scans employees at Civil Secretariat, Peshawar, on Thursday for coronavirus. — White Star

PESHAWAR: The World Health Organisation is carrying out a quick assessment regarding capacity of the isolation wards designated by the government for the management of coronavirus disease, according to sources.

The world health agency will point out the gaps and present recommendations to improve services in case of outbreak.

The WHO team including Dr Nasher Jamal, the health system development team lead; Dr Baqir Hasnain, technical officer health system Islamabad; Dr Mohammad Saeed Akbar, head of sub-office Peshawar, visited Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Services Hospitals on Thursday.

They were briefed regarding the level of preparedness about proper response to the virus, officials said. They said that checklists were sent to ascertain the preparedness level of 500 beds specified by the government last month for patients of coronavirus. “So far, 30 beds have been assessed,” they added.

So far 30 beds have been assessed by the team of world health agency

Dr Khalid Masud, the director of LRH, told Dawn that WHO expressed satisfaction over their response level. “We have established 24-bed corona ward in the building of accidents and emergency department. It has separate route and has no connection to the hospital. We need technical and logistic support to be able to manage the patients locally,” he added.

He said that the ward was handed over to pulmonology department that conducted two trainings for doctors, nurses and paramedics on management of people infected with coronavirus and protective measures to stay safe from the pandemic.

Dr Khalid said that the 1780-bed LRH had got 32 specialties, highest in the province, and could expand the capacity of the ward to 50-bed for corona treatment with support of the government and WHO.

“We have put in place all facilities for seriously-ill people at the corona ward,” he said. He added that prevention should go along because the disease was avoidable.

He said that people shouldn’t mingle with the crowed. “They can use masks and handkerchief to cover faces but there is no need to get panicked as the disease is totally curable but highly contagious,” he added.

Dr Khalid said that government had already announced health emergency for next three months in view of confirmation of 20 cases in the country and stepped up work to screen people at the airport and Pak-Afghanistan border crossings to stop importation of the virus.

Officials in health department said that the WHO delegation would compile a report regarding the level of their preparedness to respond to outbreak scenarios and the gaps required to be filled to manage the patients effectively.

Sindh has reported 14 cases, Gilgit-Baltistan three, Islamabad two and Balochistan has reported one case so far.

They said that the world health agency would submit its report to ministry of health regarding the available facilities at the designated isolation wards announced by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A countrywide assessment is a part of the exercise and collaboration of WHO to get prepared for the emergency situations if cases emerge rapidly.

The province had 24 cases so far all negative but authorities have escalated work in view of the deaths from the virus in China, Iran and a case in Afghanistan.

Officials said that they also planned to screen pilgrimages coming from Iran,who mostly belonged to Hangu and Parachinar districts, as part of the prevention efforts.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2020