Punjab govt closes down Covid-19 wards in three Rawalpindi hospitals

Updated 12 Aug 2020

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The three hospitals have restarted routine activities and are treating all kinds of patients in various departments. — Dawn/File
The three hospitals have restarted routine activities and are treating all kinds of patients in various departments. — Dawn/File

RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has closed down Covid-19 wards in three government-run hospitals in the city, leaving the Rawalpindi Institute of Urology (RIU) the dedicated facility for patients of the disease following a reported decrease in cases.

All the filter clinics and wards for Covid-19 patients at Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH), Holy Family Hospital (HFH) and the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital have been closed and patients will be referred to RIU from now on.

The three hospitals have restarted routine activities and are treating all kinds of patients in various departments.

The Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare department had established a 196-bed facility for Covid-19 patients at BBH. This included 140 beds in wards, 70 beds attached to oxygen and 30 ventilators in the intensive care unit (ICU).

RIU made Rawalpindi division’s dedicated Covid-19 facility

HFH had a 100-bed facility, including a 41-bed isolation ward, 16 ventilators and 43 oxygen-attached beds in the ICU. A 14-bed facility with four beds in the isolation ward, five ventilators and five oxygen-attached beds in the ICU was set up at the DHQ Hospital.

The provincial government also set up two 120-bed field hospitals in the Shehbaz Sharif Sports Complex in Shamsabad and the Red Crescent Hospital.

BBH medical superintendent Dr Raffique Ahmed told Dawn that the hospital closed its wards on the Punjab government’s directives, as RIU was made the dedicated hospital for Covid-19 treatment.

“All the patients will be tested there and admitted in its wards,” Dr Ahmed said.

He said all the patients were moved to RIU soon after the government’s directives were received. However, BBH has not closed the ICU, as there are no gynaecology or surgery facilities at RIU to treat pregnant women with Covid-19 or other patients who need critical care.

Patients with other conditions who need dialysis or who have other diseases will be treated at BBH in the coming days, he said, but no such patients have been admitted to the hospital yet since the number of patients has decreased.

HFH medical superintendent Dr Shahzad Ahmed said that while their Covid-19 ward has closed, they have made arrangements to provide care to patients who visit the hospital with unrelated concerns and test positive for Covid-19 during the pathological examination.

“We are not dealing with new and stable Covid-19 patients in hospitals and these patients are being referred to RIU for treatment, where the government has made arrangements for them,” he said.

RIU has been active and dedicated as Rawalpindi division’s Covid-19 hospital and will take all kinds of Covid-19 patients, Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood said.

He said a helpline has been set up at the institute to provide the public information on the coronavirus, and a counselling section has been established there to follow-up on Covid-19 patients or any new information about the disease.

Dengue wards activated

While the Covid-19 cases have decreased, dengue virus wards have been activated in three government hospitals due to the threat of the mosquito-borne disease.

Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Holy Family Hospital and District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital have activated their dengue wards and established counters to deal with dengue patients.

Four dengue patients have reported in the garrison city so far. One patient came from HFH Staff Colony, two from cantonment areas, including Banaras Colony and Range Road, and another from Fazal Town near Chaklala Scheme-III.

“Two dengue counters have been established at the BBH emergency department and outdoor patients department. Total 31 beds have been established for the dengue patients in the first phase,” BBH Medical Superintendent Dr Raffique Ahmed told Dawn.

He said that training of doctors and paramedical staff had been started to deal with dengue patients. He said that doctors and nurses have been deployed in the wards.

At present, no suspected patient has arrived in the hospital. “We are ready to face the new challenge of dengue. The doctors and all staff in the hospital will face the challenge of dengue virus after coronavirus,” he said.

He said laboratory tests of dengue patients would be conducted within the hospital and the required machinery has been activated. He said that there was no shortage of medicines.

HFH Medical Superintendent Dr Shahzad Ahmed told Dawn that the dengue ward had been activated in the hospital’s emergency and OPD.

“We made two plans to deal with dengue patients as in the first phase a 50-bed ward has been activated and the number of beds would be increased in the coming days as per requirements,” he said.

He said a hospital staff member was affected by the dengue virus as he had visited Karachi and Peshawar and might have been infected with the virus there. The dengue surveillance was conducted in the staff colony but no dengue larvae were found in the area.

Meanwhile, Punjab Minister for Health Dr Yasmeen Rashid visited the garrison city and reviewed the arrangements on Monday.

Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood apprised the minister of the dengue prevention activities in the district. The minister directed the officials to scale up the surveillance. She said even though dengue was under control its prevention required collaborative efforts from all departments.

The minister said: “Our health departments have made adequate arrangements to control dengue.”

All the commissioners and deputy commissioners have been directed to personally supervise the dengue control activities. Local administrations must identify hotspots.

“I urge all the citizens to stay vigilant about possible mosquito breeding sites. By adopting the framework developed under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar we were able to reduce corona cases. All necessary measures are being taken in Punjab to control corona, dengue and polio,” she said.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2020