SAHIWAL: The ongoing third wave of coronavirus has put the existing health facilities under severe pressure in the district as the local health authorities in collaboration with the management of the Sahiwal Medical College are trying to develop another 36-bed Covid ward at the Government Haji Abdul Qayyum Hospital for accommodating the increasing number of patients.

It is learnt that the existing [Covid] ward at the DHQ Teaching Hospital has exhausted its capacity, both in terms of beds and oxygen ventilators.

SMC’s focal person on Covid Dr Waseem told Dawn that daily 40-50 patients are visiting the DHQ hospital where the oxygen level has gone down to 60-65 per cent. “This is an alarming situation and it may prevail till the middle of Ramazan”, Dr Waseem, a pulmonologist, says.

Another 36-bed ward being developed; district short of ventilators

The shortage of ventilators for accommodating the growing number of patients is another major concern for the local health authorities, he says.

District Health Authority Chief Executive Officer Dr Abdul Majeed says Sahiwal was a comparatively safer district where less Covid cases were reported during the first and second wave. Earlier, the maximum number of positive cases is 5-6 in a day but now during the past one week these have surged to 25-30.

“Today [Wednesday] 39 cases have been reported, a maximum in a day in the Sahiwal”, he says.

Dawn has learnt from sources that 39 reported [by the provincial government] cases and 40-50 patients visiting the DHQ hospital daily with severe breathing problems are two separate phenomena that are making Sahiwal not a safe district. The CEO says presently there is no isolation or quarantine centres in both tehsil hospitals of the district.

To a question how the growing cases are being handled, the CEO says: “The reported cases are contacted on an individual basis and they are advised to privately quarantine themselves in their private spaces or houses”. The CEO says there are no quarantine spaces available in official health facilities.

Majeed says during the current wave it is hoped that herd immunity will develop against the disease locally. This correspondent has learnt that Chichawatni THQ hospital and Haji Qayyum Hospital don’t have corona wards and quarantine centres.

District Health Office In-charge Khaliquz Zaman says the reported cases are scattered in the district and they are not coming from any specific location, village or mohallah. It is learnt that more than 250 patients are quarantined at different locations of the district.

The health CEO says if the number increases with the same speed they may go for ‘geo tracking’ of reported cases.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2021

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