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Islamabad’s health infrastructure crumbling under the weight of rising coronavirus cases


Senior citizens wait to receive a dose of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus, at a vaccination centre in Islamabad on March 30, 2021. — AFP/File
  • Islamabad’s medical facilities buckling under the weight of rising cases; positivity ratio remains over 8%.
  • Hospital beds are filling up fast and oxygen is in high in demand.
  • At Polyclinic Hospital all scheduled surgeries have been put off, only emergency procedures are being carried out.

As Pakistan faces mounting pressure from a rapidly escalating coronavirus situation, Islamabad’s medical facilities are no exception.

According to the Islamabad District Health Officer Zaeem Zia, Islamabad’s positivity ratio continues to remain over 8%. In the last 24 hours, it rose to 9%.

The past day saw 463 people in the capital testing positive for coronavirus, said the DHO, adding that for the past 10 days, no drop was registered in the number of positive cases.

Zia said that the rise in infections has been steady since the past three to four weeks.

He urged for the people to heed the government’s advice and take safety measures and get the elderly registered for a vaccine.

Hospital beds in the capital filling up fast

Amid the ballooning crisis, the capital city’s hospitals beds are filling up fast.

Coronavirus patients requiring hospitalisation are currently under treatment at 16 government and private medical facilities.

According to sources within the various medical facilities, there are a total of 836 hospital beds in Islamabad, of which 525 have been occupied by coronavirus patients.

Of the 116 ventilators reserved for such patients, 69 are under use, and the number is quickly rising.

Oxygen beds

At the Isolation Hospital and Infectious Treatment Centre (IHITC), out of the 105 oxygen beds available, 90 are occupied.

At PIMS, of the 183 beds reserved for coronavirus patients, 149 have been filled, whereas at the Polyclinic Hospital, of the 47 reserved beds, 27 are occupied.

Ventilators

At PIMS, 10 out of 21 ventilators; at IHITC, 12 out of 20 ventilators; and at the Polyclinic Hospital, 100% ventilators are being utilised.

Federal Govt Hospital in sorry state: sources

While it appears that the situation is better at the Federal Government Hospital, with only 9 beds occupied out of a 100 reserved for coronavirus patients, sources have said that this can be attributed to the “insufficient arrangements for high flow oxygen beds” at the facility.

The sources added that there are “no ventilators” at the hospital for coronavirus patients.

Surgeries put off at Polyclinic Hospital

At the Polyclinic Hospital, all scheduled surgeries have been put off.

According to the spokesperson of the medical facility, all scheduled surgeries have been postponed indefinitely and only emergency procedures are being carried out. The measure was taken to maintain the supply of oxygen for coronavirus patients.

The spokesperson said that the third coronavirus wave is “far more intense” than anticipated and the hospital continues to face increased pressure with new admissions.

The ventilators reserved for coronavirus patients are all under use, according to the spokesperson. Additionally, out of 37 reserved oxygen beds, 27 are in use by COVID-19 patients.

Oxygen supplies have also come under stress with the use rising to three times the usual.

The time to accommodate outpatient cases has also been cut down from the previous 8am-2pm to 9am-11am, the spokesperson said.

To make matters worse, 46 of the hospital’s healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus, including two doctors, 17 nurses and 27 paramedics.

Oxygen in high demand at PIMS

Over at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), the use of oxygen crossed 7,000 cubic metres today. Every day, on average, 7,461 cubic metres of oxygen is being utilised.

According to the hospital administration, the hospital currently has a total supply of 9,385 cubic metres of oxygen, with cylinders of both 200mm and 200mf storage capacity available.

Of the 21 ventilators reserved for coronavirus patients, 10 are under use.

High flow oxygen beds in the medical facility amount to 142, of which 119 are being used in the treatment of coronavirus patients.

In addition to this, 20 low flow oxygen beds are also being used.

More children falling victim to the virus than before

Amid the worrying statistics emerging from the situation, are those attributed to children in Pakistan, who are increasingly falling victim to the virus in the third coronavirus wave.

According to the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) over the course of a single day, two children aged between one and 10 years, died from COVID-19.

In the month of April, so far seven children have succumbed to the virus.

From February to date, 14 children aged between one and 10 years have died, whereas overall, since the start of the outbreak, 47 children in this age bracket passed away.

In the first wave, till June 30, 2020, 12 children had died.

Thereafter, from August 2020 to January 31, 2021, 21 children died from the disease.

Overall, in the first two waves, till January 31, 2020, 33 children died from COVID-19, the NCOC said.



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