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LAHORE: Provincial Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has said that almost all ventilators in Gujranwala were occupied while the occupancy rate in Lahore was recorded at 81.5 percent.

The minister provided the details during a press conference held in Lahore on Sunday to update the public regarding the coronavirus situation in the province. She said the health department, however, was making efforts to increase facilities.

Giving details of the healthcare facilities which are being offered to Covid-19 patients in the public sector hospitals, the minister said that there were 2,730 beds in district headquarters hospitals (DHQs) in Punjab of which around 600 were currently occupied. There were 97 ventilators in the DHQs of which 20 were in use, she said before hoping that normalcy would return soon as the numbers of Covid patients are declining, particularly in Lahore. She claimed that all facilities and human resources are available.

Crediting the district administration for ensuring strict compliance of the coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs), the minister said the infectivity rate in Lahore, which had been significantly high previously, had now been reduced in comparison to other cities. “There is a lot of noise that the condition in Lahore is bad,” she said, sharing that 30 areas of the city were under smart-lockdown. “We had admitted 1,340 patients in hospitals on April 25, but now (today) we have 1,149 patients. The number of patients has decreased a bit. Occupancy of oxygen beds was 72pc, now it is 42pc,” she claimed.

Yasmin added that the provincial government had provided 50 ventilators to public sector hospitals in Lahore and stressed that “there has been no interruption in oxygen and no problem was created”. She said as many as 280 beds had been added to the high dependency unit (HDU) at Lahore’s Expo Centre while 10 ventilators were also being added as a “backup option” in case the city’s hospitals were strained. “If we have a problem right now, it is in Gujranwala where almost 100pc of the ventilators were occupied.”

Talking about the health department’s efforts, Yasmin said that five ventilators had been sent to the city while ambulances equipped with ventilators were also being prepared to transport patients from Gujranwala to Lahore, if needed.

“Three days ago, we held a meeting with private sector in Lahore and received a very positive response from them. In the private sector, we have 300 high flow oxygen beds in teaching hospitals. We are receiving support of 300 beds and 30 ventilators from the private sector which they have said they will not take charges for. In addition, the private sector would also fix charges for Covid-19 treatment so there would be no complaints,” she disclosed.

Moving on to other cities, the minister said the ventilator occupancy rate in Multan stood at 88 percent followed by Sargodha at 80 percent, Bahawalpur at 52 percent, Dera Ghazi Khan at 39 percent and Faisalabad at 38 percent.

She clarified that there was no problem in meeting the province’s oxygen demands. “The Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology generates its own oxygen to fulfill its need. The cabinet committee has given us permission to get oxygen generators for the future,” she said, adding that the procurement process for teaching hospitals had already been started.

Yasmin mentioned that the industry had also assured the government that there would be no obstacle in diverting oxygen to hospitals.

Talking about the availability of medicines, the health minister said Actemra - an injectable drug used to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients - was “freely available” and had been used for 956 patients so far. “We have bought 1,000 more,” she added.

She continued that the government was starting a study on anti-viral drug Remdesivir to find out its effectiveness in treating Covid patients. She said the study would be carried out in three hospitals: Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute, Mayo Hospital and Jinnah Hospital - and the results would be shared with the media after the trials were completed.

About the government’s vaccination drive, Dr Yasmin said Punjab was “ahead of all other provinces” when it came to administering the coronavirus vaccines, adding that over 78,000 doses were administered on Saturday. She said that there had been an increase in the number of people wanting to get immunized since the government allowed walk-in vaccinations for people aged 50 to 59.

Talking about the variants and effectiveness of the vaccines, the minister said the province has its own gene-sequencing system. “I talked to our molecular biologist today (Sunday) morning, who informed me that 90pc of our cases are of the British variant and 10pc are the strain from Wuhan,” she claimed.

She refuted reports that the Brazilian and South African variants had spread in the province. “Two patients were identified having the variants, one from Islamabad and the other from Mianwali. Their contact tracing was done and no other person tested positive, she declared.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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