Hospitals in Punjab put on high alert over daily surge in Covid cases

Published March 27, 2021
The government has directed the administrations of teaching hospitals to keep offices open all week and ensure availability of essential staff even on Saturday and Sunday. — Punjab government/File
The government has directed the administrations of teaching hospitals to keep offices open all week and ensure availability of essential staff even on Saturday and Sunday. — Punjab government/File

LAHORE: The Punjab government has put public sector hospitals of the province on high alert after intensification of the third wave of coronavirus, particularly in the provincial capital where the positivity rate of the infection has reached 16 per cent.

Health authorities said Lahore was at the top of the districts in the province reporting the highest infection rate, which was determined on the basis of cases reported in the last two weeks.

The government has directed the administrations of teaching hospitals to keep offices open all week and ensure availability of essential staff even on Saturday and Sunday. They have also been directed to make sure that medical superintendents, other admin officers and staff are available daily after 1pm at their respective offices.

The new alert was issued particularly to avert a crisis in Lahore’s government hospitals following reports that the current wave of the virus was heading towards its peak because of a massive surge in the number of deaths and new infections, an official told Dawn.

Firdous says virus claimed 63 lives in country, including 43 in Punjab

He said the situation was extremely alarming at Jinnah Hospital where coronavirus patients were facing multiple issues, including the oxygen flow meters in the emergency ward not functioning properly.

The hospital had spared only two wards for Covid-19 patients that are almost occupied and there was no bed for new critical patients. The institute then started admitting Covid-19 patients to the emergency ward, risking the lives of other patients. The official further said the oxygen ports were also not fully functional in the coronavirus wards.

There were also complaints that senior doctors, particularly professors and associate professors, were not visiting the Covid wards against government instructions. The patients were largely being attended by postgraduate trainees, registrars or other medics.

The N5 masks and other protective kits were not sufficiently available for the medics attending patients, the official said, adding that no efforts were being made to expand the beds to cater to the growing number of patients.

The official further said Services Hospital was also facing the same issues, particularly shortage of ventilators and beds. He said the government provided 16 ventilators to the hospital and 10 to Mayo Hospital following reports that all the available lifesaving equipment had been utilised in the facilities in question.

Meanwhile, Jinnah Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Yahya Sultan admitted that the administration was struggling to meet the requirements of Covid-19 patients. Being one of the major teaching institutes, his hospital was sharing a major burden of patients as the number of cases was increasing with each passing day.

“Our doctors, nurses and paramedical staff are discharging Covid duties 24/7 to ensure best available services to patients of the virus,” he said, adding that the health minister and the secretary were both taking stock of the situation daily.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the third wave of coronavirus had intensified across the country, adding the virus continued to wreak havoc, killing 63 people across the country, including 43 in Punjab, during the last 24 hours.

Talking to the media, she said the situation was particularly alarming in four major cities and the ratio of ventilated patients was increasing by the day. She said 65pc of vents in Multan, 62pc in Islamabad, 60pc in Gujranwala and 54pc in Lahore have been occupied. Similarly, 95pc oxygen beds in Gujrat, 85pc in Gujranwala, 73pc in Peshawar and 49pc in Islamabad have been occupied, she added.

Dr Firdous said that following the reports of a persistent surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in Punjab, the government has imposed a smart lockdown in four localities of Rawalpindi, three of Gujranwala and four of Sialkot.

All business centres, restaurants and public and private offices will remain closed in the sealed areas with restrictions on people’s movement. However, medical stores, pharmacies, collection points and laboratories will remain open round the clock and seven days a week, she stressed.

Similarly, grocery and general stores, flour chakkis, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors and petrol pumps will be allowed to remain open between 9am and 7pm.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2021

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