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Covid surge overwhelms major hospitals in Karachi


A sharp spike in coronavirus infections has overwhelmed major hospitals in the metropolis. The positivity ratio soared past 20 per cent in less than a week and the city’s hospitals are struggling to accommodate patients.

According to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, the positivity ratio hit 25 per cent on Monday.

Covid-19 wards at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, the Sindh Infectious Disease Hospital and Research Centre (SIDHRC), Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital, the Indus Hospital, Lyari General Hospital and other health facilities, including the isolation ward at Expo Centre, have reached their capacity. Some have initiated efforts to make extra arrangements for new patients.

“All 140 beds are occupied. There isn’t space for even a single [new] patient, said SIDHRC Medical Superintendent Dr Wahid Rajput, speaking to The Express Tribune. All new patients are being referred to other government hospitals but the situation is dire there as well.

“Just spend Rs5 and wear a mask so we may curb the spread of the virus,” he pleaded. Those who are violating the coronavirus-mandated standard operating procedures (SOPs) are creating an unfavourable situation for others as well, he added.

Other health officials too urged citizens to comply with Covid-19 protocol and to inoculate against the deadly virus. Flouting of SOPs clubbed with the emergence of the Delta variant could lead to a disastrous situation, they pointed out. It appears, however, that most health facilities are already on the brink of disaster.

Beds occupied, surgeries suspended

At JPMC, the city’s largest public hospital, all surgeries except emergency ones have been suspended for the past week. Out of the 90 beds in its Covid-19 ward, 80 are occupied and it is all hands on deck.

Some of the frontline workers at JPMC, including its top three nurses, a few of the doctors and other staffers have also contracted the virus though they have been inoculated.

“A new ward of 70-beds is being set up,” said JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali. “Most patients coming to the hospital are in critical condition.”

The virus is spreading rapidly and the situation is critical, she told The Express Tribune. Most of the patients coming to JPMC have been sent by other hospitals, which could not accommodate them, she added.

In response to a question, Jamali said that thus far there is enough oxygen supply in major hospitals of the city. “[At JPMC] we have enough stock.”

Indus Hospital’s Dr Abdul Bari reported a similar situation. “There is no place in the hospital. But we are arranging extra beds to accommodate more patients.”

The past week has been critical, said Dr Bari, adding that the jump in positive cases was sudden. Over a dozen Covid patients were being shifted from the Indus Hospital to other facilities as the hospital could not cater to them, he said. “This is possibly because of the spread of the Delta variant.”

The situation will not stabilise till citizens voluntarily get vaccinated, added Dr Bari. “The vaccine is free. I advise all to get inoculated immediately to curb the spread of the virus.”

Increasing infections

Meanwhile, in a statement issued later on the day, the CM apprised that the positivity ratio in the metropolis was at 25.7 per cent. From July 13 to July 19 the positivity ratio had averaged at18.14 percent, he said. It was at 14.72 per cent on Sunday but jumped to 25.7 per cent on Monday. “The sharp increase in one day is worrying.”

He urged citizen to take precautionary measures and implement SOPs.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Sindh Health Services Director General Dr Irshad Memon said that more beds were being arranged for hospitals. Contradicting the concern expressed by the hospitals, however, he said that there were enough beds at JPMC and Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital and further arrangements were being made.

The number of patients is increasing but the number of deaths is in control, he said.

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