15 more die of Covid as vaccination at Karachi mega centre remains suspended

Published January 29, 2022
People wait for their turn to receive a dose of the coronavirus vaccine at the Expo Centre in Karachi in this file photo. — AFP
People wait for their turn to receive a dose of the coronavirus vaccine at the Expo Centre in Karachi in this file photo. — AFP

KARACHI: The Covid-19 vaccination process at the mega immunisation facility at the Expo Centre remained closed on Friday that saw the death of 15 more patients in the city.

Sources said the facility visited daily by thousands of people had been completely closed since Monday on account of protests by staff awaiting salaries for nine months.

The issue attracted attention of opposition lawmakers, who demanded that the chief minister and health minister immediately look into the matter and ensure payment of staff salaries.

“The young vaccinators and other allied staff here are front-line fighters in the war against the pandemic. Unfortunately, they have been deprived of their meagre monthly salary of Rs18,000, which is lower than the minimum threshold of Rs25,000 set by the Sindh government,” Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh told reporters after meeting the protesting workers at Expo Centre.

Opposition leader demands immediate payment of salary to protesting workers; 2,111 new infections across province

He questioned where the amount of Rs278 billion allocated for public health in the provincial budget was being spent as the condition of most government-run healthcare facilities was poor while the staff was deprived of their salaries for months.

The mega centre was opened at Expo less than a year ago with 500-strong workforce. A majority of them were privately hired. Initially, the centrally located facility operated round the clock and provided the much-needed service, attracting praise from all and sundry.

Within months, however, resentment grew among the staff members over delay in salaries that finally led to closure of the unit a few days back.

“If the government had thought it wise to outsource the job, it should have ensured in the agreement with the company that staffers are paid on time. Else, it should have been fined. Apparently, if an agreement exists at all, it completely favours the company,” said a senior health department official.

1,568 new cases in Karachi

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister House released latest stats on the Omicron-driven wave in the province, showing 2,111 new infections when 16,975 tests were conducted.

Karachi reported a total of 1,568 new infections overnight — 463 cases from district South, 405 East, 213 Malir, 208 Central, 160 West and 119 from district Korangi.

Hyderabad reported 138 cases, Sanghar 45, Sukkur and Mirpurkhas 32 each, Matiari 30, Tando Muhammad Khan 27, Tharparkar 24, Jamshoro 21, Sujawal 20, Shaheed Benazirabad 19, Tando Allahyar and Thatta 17 each, Badin 16, Ghotki and Umerkot 14 each, Kashmore 13, Naushahro Feroze 11, Khairpur, Larkana and Shikarpur 10 each and Jacobabad seven.

“Currently, 50,286 patients are under treatment; of them 49,802 are in home isolation, 40 at isolation centres and 444 at different hospitals. The condition of 382 patients is stated to be critical, including 25 patients on ventilators. A total of 791 patients recovered overnight,” the statement said.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022

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