Pims on high alert for two months, expecting ‘surge’ in Covid-19 cases

Updated 17 Jul 2020

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X-ray laboratory has been set up at filter clinic for suspected Covid-19 patients. — APP/File
X-ray laboratory has been set up at filter clinic for suspected Covid-19 patients. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has been placed on high alert for two months, out of concerns that there could be a surge in Covid-19 cases because of Eidul Azha and then Muharram.

The hospital will remain on high alert from July 20 to Sept 20, during which time staff leave will be cancelled and even protests have been banned.

An X-ray laboratory has also been established at the Pims filter clinic, where suspected Covid-19 patients will be tested, X-rayed and their reports be given to them so that they do not have to enter the hospital itself.

According a hospital circular, available with Dawn, an “extraordinary surge” in the number of Covid-19 cases is anticipated in the wake of imminent crowding in makeshift cattle markets and Eidul Azha congregations in the coming weeks, followed by Muharram processions in early September.

It stated: “It is circulated for the compliance of all concerned that a ‘high alert’ status may be maintained for emergency care and treatment of Covid-19 patients besides other emergency cases reaching Pims for a period of two months starting 20th July till 20th of September, 2020.”

X-ray laboratory set up at filter clinic for suspected Covid-19 patients

Pharmacy staff have been directed to “maintain supplies of drugs/medicines, personal protective equipments (PPEs) and related articles in abundance, in stores.”

“The hospital staff will not be allowed long leaves during this period. It is further clarified that agitations, protests, processions and trade union activities by healthcare workers for political/personal issues are illegal, irrational, unethical and must be avoided, more specific during the pandemic,” the circular said.

Pims Joint Executive Director Dr Minhajus Siraj told Dawn that the public appears relaxed and under the impression that the coronavirus has been controlled.

“We need to shake up the people and make them realise that Covid-19 is still around us and we are more vulnerable than we were a few months ago. I also believe that outpatient departments should not be opened until Sept 15,” he said.

Islamabad MNA Ali Nawaz Awan recently moved a calling attention notice in the National Assembly seeking the opening of OPDs.

Dr Siraj said that 262 beds have been allocated to Covid-19 treatment by squeezing nine departments.

When asked why the hospital has prohibited staff from protesting, Dr Siraj said protests cause problems from patients. He said doctors held a protest recently in which they used a sound system in the hospital’s corridors, which disturbed patients.

An X-ray machine has been installed at the Pims filter clinic for suspected Covid-19 patients. The X-ray laboratory was inaugurated by Pims Executive Director Dr Ansar Maxood and Dr Ayesha Isani, the head of the radiology department.

Dr Siraj said the lab was set up at the clinic to keep suspected patients from having to enter the hospital.

“Previously, suspected patients would receive a slip from the filter clinic, after which they had to enter the hospital to get X-rayed. That increased the chances of human to human transmission. It has been decided that suspected Covid-19 patients will now be X-rayed at the filter clinic, where their samples will be collected and their reports will be handed over as well,” he said.

Dr Siraj said that fewer than 100 patients visit the hospital every day, and the X-ray machine at the filter clinic could easily carry out 100 X-rays per day.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2020