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Sindh backs NCOC decision to relax NPI measures, but with a warning

Sindh’s chief minister has endorsed the decision of the National Command & Operation Centre (NCOC) about relaxation in certain non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) notified on Saturday, but warned to order strict measures if Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the province, especially in Karachi and other urban centres.

“We will review the decision on Thursday keeping in view the impact of Covid-19 in the post-Eid scenario and may take strict measures if the SOPs [standard operating procedures] are violated or a spike in cases is reported,” said Syed Murad Ali Shah.

Shah chaired a meeting of the Provincial Task Force on Covid-19 at the CM House on Monday. At the outset of the meeting, the task force endorsed the relaxation in certain NPIs announced by the NCOC on May 15.

But they resolved to review the decision on Thursday after evaluating the impact of the coronavirus in the post-Eid scenario. “If the SOPs are not followed in true letter and spirit,” warned the CM, “the government will take strict action and may withdraw the relaxation.”

Weekly report

Health Secretary Kazim Jatoi told the meeting that between May 10 and 16, Karachi’s District East reported 26 per cent Covid cases, District South 17 per cent, District Central 14 per cent, Sukkur 12 per cent, Hyderabad and District Malir 11 per cent each, District Korangi 10 per cent, Dadu nine per cent, District West eight per cent, Thatta seven per cent, and Badin, Ghotki, Naushehroferoze and Shaheed Benazirabad five per cent each.

Deaths

Jatoi said that in the past 30 days, 142 deaths stemming from Covid-19 have been reported, of whom 123 patients (87 per cent) died in hospitals on ventilators and 19 at home. On this the chief executive said that it is not a good situation. “We have to save our valuable lives by taking necessary measures,” he said, adding that it will be possible only when people comply with the SOPs and get themselves vaccinated.

Critical care beds

The meeting was told that Sindh has 664 ICU (intensive care unit) beds with ventilators, of which 58 are occupied, while out of the 1,814 HDU (high dependency unit) beds, 460 are occupied.

The health secretary said that 54 patients were on ventilators in Karachi on May 5, but the number increased to 59 by May 11 and 12. He added that the number dropped to 55 by May 13 and 14, but again increased to 58 by May 16.

He also said that in Hyderabad the number of patients on life support had not gone up by more than three during the period between May 5 and 16.

Abbasi Hospital

The meeting was told that the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital’s Covid unit has been closed due to some financial liabilities. On this the CM directed Local Government Minister Nasir Shah to get it functional within two days.

He also ordered an inquiry into the said liabilities and told the LG minister to report to him about it. “The Abbasi Shaheed Hospital is an important facility and it must operate at its full capacity round the clock.”

Vaccination

The meeting was told that the provincial government has received 932,000 doses of Sinopharm, 11,000 of CanSino, 280,000 of Sinovac and 107,500 of AstraZeneca, while so far 616,850 vaccines have been used for the first dose and 213,798 for the second.

Between May 13 and 16, the vaccination centre set up at the Karachi Expo Centre administered 13,634 doses, while 59,886 were administered at the rest of the centres across the province. On this the CM directed the health department to start a mobile vaccination campaign for the elderly who are handicapped or bedridden.

Oxygen demand

The meeting was told that the daily oxygen demand for Covid patients has been recorded at 35,089 m3. They observed that the necessary measures may be taken to procure more oxygen.

The meeting was also attended by ministers Dr Azra Pechuho and Saeed Ghani, CM’s adviser Murtaza Wahab, Sindh police chief Mushtaq Mahar, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Usman Chachar, Karachi Commissioner Navid Shaikh, Karachi police chief Imran Minhas, Finance Secretary Hassan Naqvi, School Education Secretary Ahmed Bux Narejo, Dr Bari, Dr Faisal, Dr Sajjad Qaiser, and representatives of the V Corps, Rangers and WHO.

Oxygen production

In another meeting the CM chaired to discuss oxygen production, he said his team in collaboration with the Jamshoro Power Company Ltd (JPCL) has explored the option of producing oxygen through electrolysis. “Initially, the oxygen produced as by-product through electrolysis was wasted, but now we have developed a concept to utilise it.”

JPCL CEO Tanveer Jafferi said that initially, 92 per cent purified oxygen was produced, but now the purity percentage had increased to 97.7 per cent. He said the PCSIR has tested the oxygen being produced by the JPCL and declared it fit for medical use.

The CM said the concept of oxygen production can be replicated in the thermal power sector throughout the country where electrolysis is being used as a cooling process.

The meeting was also attended by Wahab, CM’s Principal Secretary Sajid Jamal Abro and Jamshoro Deputy Commissioner Capt (retd) Farid.