Saturday September 18, 2021

Alarming rise in Covid-19 cases in Karachi: Sindh to close hotels, shrines, slash business hours once again

KARACHI: The Sindh chief minister Friday announced to shut down dining at restaurants and marriage halls, close shrines, recreational spots and educational institutions, except those where examinations are taking place and reduced business timings of markets/shops from 6am to 6pm from Monday.

CM Murad Ali Shah took the decision following the recommendations from Provincial Taskforce on Covid-19. The situation prompted the provincial government to send an SOS signal to the National Command and Operation Center for more oxygen cylinders and related equipment to treat the rising number of critical patients as oxygen crises intensified in Karachi hospitals.

Presiding over the meeting of Provincial Taskforce on Covid-19, the chief minister said that pharmacies and bakeries would operate as usual, but there would be two closed days: Friday and Sunday, while the government and private offices would function with 50 percent staff attendance, except the departments/organizations of essential services.

The meeting was held at the CM House and was attended by provincial ministers, Saeed Ghani, Jam Ikramullah Dharejo, Advisor Law Murtaza Wahab, Parliamentary Secretary on Health Qasim Siraj Soomro, IG Police Mushtaq Maher, ACS Home Qazi Shahid Parvez, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, Secretary Finance Hassan Naqvi, Secretary Health Kazim Jatoi, Dr Bari, Dr Sara Khan of WHO, Dr Qaiser Sajjid, VC Dow University Dr Saeed Qureshi, representatives of Corps-5, Rangers.

Briefing the meeting, Secretary Health Dr Kazim Jatoi said the overall Covid-19 detection ratio was recorded at 10.3 percent in the province but in Karachi it had peaked to 21.54 percent on July 22. At this, the chief minister said on July 16 the infection rate in Karachi was 14.27 pc which has increased to 21.54 percent on July 22. “This is a dangerous situation, which needs to be checked, otherwise everything would slip out of control,” he said.

Analyzing 457 cases of Covid-19, Secretary Health Kazim Jatoi told the meeting that 35 percent of patients were infected in gatherings, 23 percent in marriage functions and 17 percent in international traveling. In July so far, 307 patients have died, of them 201 or 65 percent were on ventilators, 70 or 23 percent off ventilators and 36 or 12 percent were at home.

The meeting was told that out of total 1,002 Covid-19 patients in hospitals, 85 percent were non-vaccinated, and 15 percent were vaccinated with mild symptoms. The severity of the infection was higher among those who had received the first jab only, underlining that vaccination was necessary.

At this, the chief minister directed Secretary Finance Hassan Naqvi to coordinate with the Accountant General of Sindh to stop the salary of non-vaccinated government employees. He also decided to approach the PTA authorities through NCOC for sending a service message to all the mobile phone users to get vaccinated within a week and after that their cell phone SIMS would be blocked.

The meeting was told that so far 6,720,997 doses of vaccinations were received, of them 5,312,921 were utilized. The chief minister directed the health department to further expedite the vaccination. The CM said that he would review the situation next week and may take more strict decisions if the situation did not improve.

Following the meeting, the Sindh home department issued a notification cutting down business hours of general businesses, shopping malls, from 6am to 6pm, besides shutting down educational institutions, shrines, recreational places like Seaview, Hawksbay, Keenjhar Lake. Meanwhile, an oxygen crisis at a Covid-19 treatment health facility in Karachi led to shifting of critical patients to Lyari General Hospital Karachi on Friday morning, during which one of them died as no High Dependency Unit (HDU) bed was available for the patients at the tertiary-care health facility, officials and relatives of the patients said.

“There were six Covid-19 patients at the Sindh Government Hospital Korangi, when the oxygen finished. The administration of the hospital shifted the four critical patients to the Lyari General Hospital, where one of the patients died within a few minutes as no high-flow bed was available,” an official of the Sindh health department told The News on Friday.

The official said there was no alternative arrangements for providing piped oxygen to Covid-19 patients, so cylinders are used and added that the oxygen supply at the SGH Korangi on Friday morning exhausted.

“One of the critical patients, a 78-year-old woman was among those who was shifted to Lyari General Hospital, was kept at a make-shift area as no HDU bed was available and she was given oxygen through a cylinder but she could not survive,” the official said.

Prof. Anjum Rehman, Incharge of Covid-19 treatment facility at Lyari General Hospital, denied absence of HDU beds, saying the deceased woman was critically-sick, had multiple issues and despite their best efforts she could not survive.

Meanwhile, due to exponential rise in the pandemic cases in Karachi and hospitalization of hundreds of them, the Sindh government has appealed to the federal government to provide 500 oxygen cylinders, 25 ventilators, 200 BiPAP and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines, Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) Machines and 10 portable X-ray machines to deal with crisis. “Responding to our SOS, the NCOC has sent us 125 BiPAP and CPAP machines while remaining equipment is on the way,” an official of the Sindh government confirmed.

APP adds: The national tally of active Covid-19 cases was Friday recorded at 53,623 with 1,425 more people testing positive and 543 recovering in the 24 hours.Eleven corona patients died during the 24 hours, according to the latest update issued by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC). The national positivity ratio during the past 24 hours was recorded at 5.65 percent.

Most of deaths occurred in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) followed by Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). Out of the total 11 patients who died in 24 hours, three died on the ventilator. There were 2,525 infected patients under treatment in critical condition in various Covid dedicated healthcare facilities.