KARACHI: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and other health organizations, recently noted that as a policy matter, from day one, we have been asking for the imposition of a strict lockdown, as well as the education and awareness of people to follow all the preventive measures to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
These views were expressed by Dr Ikram Ahmed Tunio, President PMA Centre, Dr Azeemuddin, President, PIMA, Dr S M Qaisar Sajjad, Secretary-General, PMA Centre, Dr Atif Hafeez, Focal Person Covid-19, PIMA, Dr Qazi Wasiq, Treasurer, PMA Centre, Dr Saad Khalid Niaz, PIMA, Dr Sharif Hashmani, President, PMA Karachi, Dr Sunil Dodani, President, Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro, General-Secretary, PMA Karachi, Dr Sohail Akhtar, PIMA, and Dr Nousheen Saif, General-Secretary, Pakistan Chest Society.
As far as the medical facilities and capabilities of the government are concerned, it is known to all that in case of an increase in the number of corona patients, the system will not able to cater to all the patients. At the moment, there are only 63 corona dedicated beds available in five public sector hospitals in Karachi alone, they said.
“At the moment, there are 1200 beds for corona patients in Karachi Expo Centre, out of which 350 beds are occupied. Though very appreciable, this facility is only providing effective isolation and primary support. We fear that after the gradual relaxation in the lockdown all over the country, keeping in view the literary rate, level of awareness of our people, undisciplined attitude, and obstinate behavior, the flood gate of COVID-19 patients will open for the society,’’ they added.
We need to be extremely careful and vigilant. We must prepare ourselves for the worst situation to come. We, in all meetings at the highest levels, have been demanding compensation for all COVID-19 victims, including doctors, paramedics, and healthcare providers. We have been demanding PPEs for our frontline soldiers. We demand a shuhada package/support money for the families of the medics who have lost their lives while fighting and saving the lives of patients, they said.
We also advise people to not take this ailment lightly.
We advise the government to listen to the WHO that notes that the lockdown is the only effective preventive measure against the virus.
The lockdown was relaxed in other countries when the number of cases reported a declining trend. In Pakistan, cases are already on the rise, and any relaxation will only make them increase them further. It is still advisable to continue with the lockdown until the case count reports a slight decrease in a few weeks.
If the government does decide to relax the lockdown with SOPs, it should take the responsibility to implement them too; leaving it to the citizens is not going to be successful as there is no such discipline in our population.
Likewise, with the expected surge of patients, the government has not given any plan to cater to them as the existing infrastructure is already saturated.
There should be a clear dashboard or a central helpline from the governments in all major cities to guide patients who to contact if they are sick. Only announcing designated hospitals does not help as it leads to frustration in finding help. This helpline should be available to ambulance services as well so that the ambulance driver can decide where to drop the patient.
There is no mention of the strategy which will be used to protect healthcare workers so far. PPE shortage continues which is reporting increasing numbers of infected healthcare workers. Screening of healthcare workers should be made mandatory, they said.