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People warned to be careful, vigilant during lockdown relaxation

KARACHI: Apparently unnerved by the federal government’s decision of easing out the coronavirus-related restrictions further across the country, the health policy executors in the Sindh government and the community of doctors working in the public and private sectors observed in Karachi on May 9 that only the citizens can now stop the epidemic from taking a turn for further human adversities in the country.
Originating from China’s Wuhan city the COVID-19 outbreak in the country has killed 636 men, women and children, including 180 in Sindh, and made 28,736 fall ill since February 26, in addition to jeopardizing lives of millions of common men, businesses and industries, education at all levels and other social and economic activities across the country.
In a video statement, the Sindh health minister, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, said that following the COVID-19 emergency, hospitals were running out of beds and ventilators.
She candidly admitted that number of COVID-19 patients requiring the ventilator intervention was on increase at hospitals. “The number of patients is growing every 30 minutes in hospitals.”
Talking about  the available intensive care and high dependency units at various government hospitals of Karachi, she however apprehended that since the lockdown measures were being relaxed the number of coronavirus patients could increase steeply, if people did not exercise precautions.
She urged citizens to behave responsibly against COVID-19 and demonstrate utmost cares, particularly while meeting their elders, who are more vulnerable to the virus diseases in question.
At the same time, she mentioned that the government will make two blocks of 200 beds within its non-functional health project near the old NIPA round about by the end of May.
At an emergent convened press conference at the PMA House, the leaders from doctors community, including some diseases specialists, said that now government had shifted all responsibilities on citizens, rather than revising its healthcare delivery policy and structures in the context of coronavirus epidemic.
“In the given situation government’s decision to relax the lockdown is bound to add to the number of COVID-19 patients in the country. Now it is the responsibility of the governments to ensure implementation of standard operating procedures.”
Those who spoke at the press conference included PMA’s central secretary, Dr S M Qaiser Sajjad, Dr Ikram Ahmed Tunio and Dr Sharif Hashmani of PMA, Dr Sohail Akhtar and Dr Azeemuddin of Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and other office bearers of the doctors’ bodies.
“We need to be extremely careful and vigilant. We must prepare ourselves for the worst situation to come,” Dr Qaiser Sajjad warned.
He said that the federal government has in principle decided to ease out the corona related lockdown from May 9 in the country, on the other hand it is a known fact that the medical facilities and capabilities of the government are very limited.
“In case of increase in number of corona patients, the system will not able to take care to all patients. As at the moment there are only 63 corona dedicated beds available in five public sector hospitals in Karachi only, while the situation in other big cities is also not much different or it can even be worst.”
The leaders of physicians expressed the fear that after the gradual relaxation in lockdown all over the country, keeping in view the literary rate and level of awareness of our people, undisciplined attitude and obstinate behavior, the floodgate of COVID-19 patients will open in the society.
However, they advised people to take this ailment just like any other diseases, and not take it as a taboo or social stigma. “We also advise the government to listen the voice of the WHO, which time and again calling for the lockdown as an only effective preventive measure against the virus.”
Suggesting the government for giving a plan to tackle up the expected surge of patients, they called for establishing a central dashboard or a central helpline from the governments in all major cities to guide patients where to contact if they are sick.
“Only announcing the names of the designated hospitals does not help as it leads to frustration in finding a place by the sick. This helpline should be available to ambulance services so that the ambulance driver should know where to drop the patient”–PNFS

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