Terming the coming four weeks critical in trying to overcome the coronavirus pandemic in the country, some top doctors have demanded the federal and provincial governments to enforce a strict country-wide lockdown for another month.
The eminent physicians of the country warned that if preventive measures were not taken, the number of COVID-19 cases could reach up to 70,000 by next month (May 15). We estimate that as many as 7,000 critical cases would require ventilators and the country does not have more than 3,500 ventilators, they claimed.
“We expect the lockdown to be lightened and this may prove dangerous for Pakistan. If we don’t use letter and spirit to implement the lockout, the estimated number of Coronavirus cases will rise to 70,000 by May 15. It will need life support for as many as 7,000 people, but our country has no capacity to care for even half of those patients, “he said. Dr. Saad Khalid Niaz, an eminent physician and gastroenterologist, talked to the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday at a news conference with several other physicians. They requested that all forms of crowds and congregations, including those in supermarkets, shopping malls and mosques, be restricted, that people should avoid meeting in any place for at least one and a half to two months, so that coronavirus transmission could be reduced as much as possible and that Ulema and people be asked to give prayers at home.
They also demanded complete closure of shopping malls, supermarkets and stores and any other places where people gather in one place, saying this is the time when we should strictly enforce the lockdown to ease the load on the fragile healthcare system in the country.
Accompanied by Prof. Abdul Bari Khan, CEO of Indus Hospital Karachi, Prof. Misbahul Aziz, former Central President of Pakistan Islamic Medical Association, PIMA, Dr. Qaiser Sajjad, Secretary General of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Prof. Sohail Akhter and Prof. Atif Hafeez Siddiqui of PIMA, Prof.
Muhammad Azeemuddin, President PIMA Karachi, Dr. Imran Hamid and Dr. Saad Khalid Niaz said the exponential increase in COVID-19 cases over the last five days had been seen as soon as the lockdown in Sindh was eased.
“Week-wise data shows an exponential rise in patient count. In just five days when the lockout was relieved, we saw a rapid rise of 2,692 patients (6,772 on April 16, to 9,464 on April 21) This is really worrying and we are worried of the situation leaving doctors and the government out of control, Dr. Saad Khalid Niaz claimed and asked the people not to listen to unconfirmed reports and myths but to follow the advice and instructions of doctors. Claiming that around 162 healthcare providers in Sindh alone had been affected by Coronavirus, Dr. Saad said COVID-19 is a medical issue and only doctors and physicians understand it best. “The belief that our people are more sensitive to the disease has made the situation worse. Unless we now ignored the alerts the patients will lie in the hospital corridors, “he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Indus Health Network Prof. Abdul Bari Khan said that 80 per cent of the isolation beds at the ICUs of a few hospitals treating COVID-19 patients were already filled and that there was no room left for more patients at the Indus, Ojha and Aga Khan Hospitals for the COVID-19 patients.
“If we didn’t understand the severity of the situation and chose to drive about without safety precautions, I’m sure there would be an increasing rise in the number of cases and high mortality in the days to come. We call on you to follow our advice, follow the lockdown and not venture out during May to stay safe and prevent others as well, “added Professor Abdul Bari Khan.