Rising Covid-19 cases test hospitals’ capacity

Medical staff to skip Eid holidays

Adnan Lodhi May 15, 2020
LAHORE: The Punjab Health Department has cancelled the coming Eidul Fitr holidays of doctors, nursing and paramedical staffers due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In view of the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Punjab, the department will also expand the capacity of hospitals in the province and set up more isolation wards in big cities.

Although the federal and provincial governments are doing their best in fighting the epidemic, the situation at the hospitals shows that they are overburdened because of lack of facilities and mismanagement. The situation in Punjab's hospitals has worsened as doctors and paramedics are demanding facilities and safety measures against the virus, while the patients are suffering.

There is a shortage of standard safety kits, N95 face masks, ventilators and laboratories in the province, while the increasing number of patients is also leading to non-availability of sufficient doctors and paramedics in several districts.

The toll of coronavirus victims in Punjab is increasing every day and 223 deaths have been recorded among 13,561 conformed patients of the disease. The situation is becoming more alarming because medical professionals, especially paramedics at hospitals, are also becoming victims of the virus.

"Around 100 paramedical staffers across the province have contracted coronavirus but they are fighting against this disease as a mission.

Our job is tough as compared to doctors, but now the situation in hospitals is alarming and mismanagement is one of the reasons for our plight.

Steps need to be taken immediately to solve the problems,” Shoaib Ahmad, a senior representative of the Paramedical Staff Association, told The Express Tribune.

A health department official said, "After relaxation of the lockdown the ratio of patients in hospitals has increased and the situation may become out of control after the Eid. The situation in the hospitals is painful, where patients are sufferings due to the non-availability of staff, lack of care and other issues.”

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The official said a shortage of beds for patients in hospitals in various districts is inevitable in the coming days.

However, Hammad Raza, spokesperson for the provincial health minister, claimed, "We took early and fast steps in Punjab for coping with the coronavirus.

There is a capacity of around 28,000 patients at quarantine centres in Punjab and satisfactory steps were taken from our side. Punjab Health Department has decided to cancel the doctors’ and paramedical staffers’ holidays on Eidul Fitr due to the coronavirus spread.”

The number of lives claimed by the virus is increasing more rapidly in big cities, including Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan.

Representative organisations of doctors have called for extension of the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the virus as a recent relaxation in restrictions on business and travel has increased their difficulties.

"Around 60 to 70 per cent capacity of big hospitals is full with the increase in coronavirus patients and now with the relaxation of lockdown pressure on hospitals is increasing, while our hospitals are already facing shortage of facilities. Practical steps should be taken to cope with the situation in coming days.

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Things will get worse if we do not develop a strategy. Home isolation should also be encouraged to lessen he pressure on hospitals and spare space there for severe cases,” said another official of the health department.

On the other hand, Punjab Institute of Public Health Dean Dr Zarafshan pointed out that the ratio of recovery of patients was good. “Our people are also cooperating with us and the awareness level has improved. We are seeing people wearing masks and using sanitisers.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2020.