Sindh health minister says lockdown can be imposed after assessing surge in Omicron cases

Published January 7, 2022
Sindh Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho holds a review meeting on the progress of the polio campaign in the Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas division. — Sindh health dept Twitter
Sindh Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho holds a review meeting on the progress of the polio campaign in the Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas division. — Sindh health dept Twitter

HYDERABAD: Sindh Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho has said that lockdown can be imposed after assessing surge in cases of Omicron infection, which is showing a steady rise.

She told journalists after chairing a meeting at Shahbaz Building on Thursday that 170 cases of Omicron had been reported so far and 500 cases of coronavirus infection had surfaced during last 24 hours, showing an increase in the spread of the virus.

She feared the pace at which the Omicron cases were rising showed they would further increase in next couple of months. Lockdown was not being imposed immediately, it could be enforced after assessing the situation in hospitals and cities, she said and called for implementing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for Covid-19 as defined earlier.

She said that people with history of foreign travel were being screened and advised all those who had been vaccinated six months back to go for booster shots. Covid-19 was here to stay, it had become part of life and it might become endemic in nature sometimes, she said.

The minister said that vaccination ratio among students of private schools was 80 to 90pc but similar figures about public sector schools were not encouraging. Parents were advised to get their children above 12 years of age vaccinated, she said.

She said that working in taluka and district level hospitals was being improved after connecting them with tertiary care hospitals. Hepatitis might also spread if preventive measures were not taken, she cautioned.

She said the government was focusing on provision of healthcare facilities in Tharparkar and conceded that government hospitals’ functioning needed improvement.

She said that Sindh National Immunisation Drive would be launched against polio this month. 95pc targets of polio campaign had been achieved as the last polio case in Sindh was reported in July 2020, she said and hoped Sindh would soon become polio free province where ratio of refusal cases had also declined.

She said earlier while chairing a meeting that all districts would participate in the drive to achieve 100pc target of the anti-polio campaign.

She asked district health officers (DHOs) to update micro plan to ensure 100pc coverage, particularly in low performing union councils and underlined the need for covering refusal cases and devising affective strategy.

She expressed concern over less coverage in remote union councils of Mirpurkhas, Sujawal, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Badin and Thatta districts, instructing officers to devise plans to involve community in the campaign to meet 100pc coverage target.

She warned that negligence would not be tolerated and vowed to make year 2022 polio-free year for Sindh. Not child should be left without inoculation, she said.

She said that action plan was being chalked out along with incentives for polio teams and new staff would be recruited in understaffed districts. Absentee staff and health officers would be dealt with strictly, she said.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2022

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