Alarm as Covid positivity rate touches 40pc mark in Karachi

Published January 17, 2022
A healthcare worker administers a dose of coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi, January 16. — Reuters
A healthcare worker administers a dose of coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi, January 16. — Reuters

KARACHI: With the death of a senior doctor who had contracted coronavirus and the infection rate in Karachi almost reaching 40 per cent mark on Sunday, the developing situation sent ripples through the medical fraternity, which believed that the fifth wave of Covid-19 would touch peak in the middle of the next month.

They claimed that more than 500 health workers of the city had recently been infected with coronavirus and with this pace the health system of the metropolis could come under serious pressure.

At first, came the news of Prof Salahuddin Sheikh’s death.

Dr Qaiser Sajjad, secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), said that the deceased doctor was a senior paediatrician, associated with the Aga Khan University Hospital, who lost his life to Covid-19.

The news of the death came with reports of growing numbers of Covid-19 patients in the medical fraternity.

AKUH doctor dies of infection; 2,348 new cases detected in city

The health department said in an advisory that the infection rate reached 39.39pc in Karachi during the last 24 hours. It said about 95pc of the reported cases were of the Omicron variant.

Although the authorities were not sure about the exact data of doctors, nurses, paramedics and other professionals associated with healthcare system, they were worried that the number of infection was fast growing.

“It would not be less than 500, I think,” said a senior official wishing not to be named. “There are doctors, paramedics and even administrative staff of different public and private hospitals. Most of them are at their homes. This all we have witnessed within a week or 10 days.”

The situation has compelled the medical fraternity to raise an alarm and make calls for immediate steps from the government and also from the society.

Ban on public gatherings sought

“We don’t want any lockdown and want businesses to continue,” said Dr Sajjad, who’s also part of the Chief Minister’s Task Force on Coronavirus. “But, we have to do something. Two things are crucial at this time — vaccination and implementation of the SOPs (standard operating procedures). The government must ensure that SOPs are implemented. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any serious move from the government when it comes to implementation of SOPs in its true spirit.”

He confirmed that a large number of members of medical fraternity had already fallen ill due to Covid-19 which could hit the performance of the health system across the city.

“Data suggests it stands at 40pc,” said Dr Sajjad. “But remember that it’s number of those who got registered or are documented. I think that there are many people who are catching virus, but they remain unregistered. So if we don’t move fast or act right now, the situation could worsen within weeks.”

He demanded a ban on public gatherings, whether political or social, while seeking government’s serious action on violation of SOPs from businesses.

Three more die of Covid-19

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah stated that as many as three more patients of coronavirus died overnight lifting the death toll to 7,697 and 2,670 new cases emerged when 15,172 tests were conducted across the province.

Mr Shah said that 15,172 samples were tested, which detected 2,670 cases that constituted 17.6pc current detection rate.

The CM said that currently 21,133 patients were under treatment and 20,850 of them were in home isolation, 26 at isolation centres and 257 at different hospitals. He added that the condition of 237 patients was stated to be critical, including 19 put on ventilators.

According to the statement, out of 2,670 new cases, 2,348 have been detected in Karachi, including 824 in East, 548 South, 535 Central, 196 Malir, 135 West and 110.

Hyderabad has 148, Sanghar 23, Shaheed Benazirabad 22, Matiari 20, Tharparkar 18, Tando Allahyar 16, Tando Muhammad Khan 14, Jamshoro 12, Sujawal nine, Naushahro Feroze seven, Badin six, Larkana and Umerkot five each, Dadu and Sukkur two each, Kashmore, Mirpurkhas, Thatta and Khairpur one each.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022

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