Chinese experts, hospitals’ CEOs want lockdown in Sindh further extended

Updated April 08, 2020

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Security officials inspect passengers and vehicles at Sohrab Goth on Tuesday as part of the government’s measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Sindh.—PPI
Security officials inspect passengers and vehicles at Sohrab Goth on Tuesday as part of the government’s measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Sindh.—PPI

KARACHI: The three-week province-wide lockdown may not be eased off after April 14 as Chinese experts, owners and chief executive officers of private hospitals and leading doctors have urged the provincial government to extend the restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus in Sindh.

The provincial government had imposed a lockdown on March 23 for two weeks and then further extended the restrictions till April 14 in line with a decision made at the national level.

The suggestion to further extend the lockdown first came from experts from China during their meeting with Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho. Then in the evening, CEOs of leading hospitals and prominent doctors met Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and expressed the fear that the coronavirus could spread if the lockdown was not extended.

‘Eight-week lockdown crucial’

Sharing their experience with regard to the coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese experts were of the view that at least an eight-week lockdown was crucial to halt the spread of Covid-19.

According to a health department statement, they while appreciating the steps taken by the provincial government said that social distancing was the key to stop the spread of the virus and the authorities should ensure the lockdown for a longer period.

Murad says he would consult cabinet, other stakeholders whether to extend lockdown beyond April 14

“For effective results, it’s crucial to extend the lockdown. In many areas of China, the lockdown continued for two months which proved fruitful,” said the Chinese experts.

“The Chinese experts reiterated their support to the Sindh government in terms of expertise, medical equipment and sharing experience in its fight against global pandemic.” said the statement.

During the meeting with private hospitals’ CEOs and doctors, the CM said he wanted their support, cooperation and guidance to fight coronavirus.

Those present in the meeting were Dr Abdul Bari of the Indus Hospital, Dr Asim Hussain of the Dr Ziauddin Hospital, Dr Syed Junaid Shah of AO Clinic, Dr Saadia Virk of South City Hospital, Dr Umer Jang of National Medical Centre, Dr Bilal Faiz of Creek General Hospital, Dr Farhan Essa Abdullah of Essa Laboratory, Dr Tahir Yousuf of Tahir Medical Centre, Sindh Healthcare Commission chairman Minhaj Qidwai, SHCC Commissioner Jawad Amin Khan, Dr Ali Imam of Imam Clinic, Ali Farhan of Darul Sehat, Dr Salman Fareedi of Liaquat National Hospital, Zerkais Ankleseria of Ankleseria Hospital, Brig Dr Waqar of Memon Medical Institute, Dr Mazhar Nizam of Patel Hospital, Commodore Kamran Khan, Dr Sadiq Ansari, Rehan Baloch and others.

They asked the CM not to ease the lockdown after April 14 as if it was withdrawn the virus would spread like a jungle fire.

They were of the view that a large population of the city comprised of slum dwellers living in small house with large families and travelling in public buses in crowds.

They said that if such kind of crowding was allowed, people would get infected in buses and on the streets and would take the virus back to their home and get their family members and localities infected.

The CM said that he would consult with his cabinet and other stakeholders on the issue.

All the CEOs and owners of the private hospitals assured the chief minister that they would provide him equipment, manpower, technical and expert support whenever the provincial government would be in need.

The CM formed a committee headed by Health Minister Dr Pechuho and comprising Dr Asim Hussain, Dr Saadia and others as members to work out a plan, requirements and arrangements to tackle the situation.

Praises doctors fighting on front lines

In a video message, the chief minister said that during the past 24 hours a doctor while helping Covid-19 patient got infected and within nine days lost his life but saved the life of various others.

He said he saluted all doctors and health workers who were fighting on the front lines against the coronavirus pandemic.

He said that 10,223 tests were conducted so far, including 634 on Tuesday. He pointed out that by Tuesday afternoon 54 new cases of coronavirus were detected raising the tally to 986.

The break-up of 986 cases is: 159 in Hyderabad, two in Jamshoro, one in Badin, 12 in Tando Mohammad Khan, one in Sujawal, one in Dadu, seven in Shaheed Benazirabad, one in Sanghar, four in Naushahro Feroze, 274 in Sukkur, two in Ghotki, 13 in Larkana, one in Jacobabad, 159 in Karachi-East, 66 in West, 110 in South, 93 in Central, 44 in Malir and 36 in district Korangi.

He said 253 coronavirus patients recovered on Monday and 16 others on Tuesday. “Thus the number of the patients recovered so far is 269 which is good news,” he said, adding that out of 269 cured patients, 183 were pilgrims.

The CM said that at present 396 patients were in home isolation and 97 were in isolation centres.

He said that 18 people lost their lives while fighting the coronavirus. “On Monday, Dr Abdul Qadir Soomro died,” he said, adding that the doctor was infected on March 28 when he was helping coronavirus suspected and confirmed patients and he was admitted to a hospital on March 31 and on April 6 he lost his life.

He expressed his deep sorrow and grief over his sad demise and offered condolence with his family members, colleagues, doctors’ community and said his sacrifice had saved the lives of a large number of patients.

Mr Shah said that the doctors were fighting on the front line against Covid-19, therefore, their services and the services of paramedical staff were commendable.

The video showed the chief minister saluting the doctors and health workers.

Talking about the government strategy, the CM said that locating, identifying and controlling the source of transmission was necessary for preventing the outbreak.

He said that the response of the government was very prompt adding that the provincial government had established 12 isolation centres throughout the province with a capacity of 170 beds.

He said that the district Rapid Response Committees had already been established and testing services were also developed at different hospitals.

The chief minister once again urged the people to observe isolation by staying at home; even at home people have to maintain social distancing from children and elderly people particularly from those who were asthmatics and cardiac patients.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2020