Sindh facing shortage of PPE, virus testing kits: CM Shah

More focused and collective efforts needed to tackle COVID-19 crisis, says CM Sindh

Web Desk

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Sindh faces a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus testing kits, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah told Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday during a meeting he participated in via video link.

Shah's remarks came as Sindh recorded three more deaths — two in Karachi and one in Hyderabad — from COVID-19, raising the province's total to 14.

The testing kits provided by the provincial disaster management authority (PDMA) had "accuracy issues", which was why Sindh had opted not to use them, Shah added. He added that the medical professionals working at the isolation centres and hospitals had to wear PPEs to avoid the risk of infection.

The CM requested the federal government to provide additional PPEs and testing kits as "the PPEs available with the provincial government were running out".

When Sindh PDMA Director-General Syed Salman Shah commented that he had sent PPEs to the province and if the testing kits had been used, he could arrange more, the chief minister said the experts working with provincial government had pointed out they had some accuracy issues and, therefore, they were not being used.

PM Imran then directed PDMA to coordinate with the Sindh government and resolve the issue.

Shah also expressed concern over the growing number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Sindh, noting that an 87-fold increase was recorded in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 over the past 15 days, which was "alarming".

The pandemic needs more focused and collective efforts to control the situation," he stressed, mentioning that as of April 3 afternoon, some 783 cases had been reported. The federal and the provincial governments should take necessary measures to contain the virus, he emphasised.

Latest statistics

Of the 783 coronavirus cases, 151 were in Hyderabad, 273 in Sukkur, seven in Larkana, six in Shaheed Benazirabad, two in Ghotki, and one each in Jacobabad and Dadu. The number of local transmissions has reached to 438.

Furthermore, 297 people were in self-isolation, 65 patients — including 25 pilgrims — had recovered, and 11 succumbed to the virus infection.

A chronology report indicated that 49 cases were detected on March 31, 367 on April 1, and 40 on April 2.

Send extra ventilators to tertiary facilities

The chief minister also directed all district hospitals to provide their extra ventilators and other equipment to tertiary care facilities so that critical coronavirus patients could be shifted and treated there.

There were six tertiary care hospitals in the province, including in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Gambat, Khairpur, Larkana, and Nawabshah. In these medical facilities, the provincial government had developed best methods to treat coronavirus patients with severe symptoms.

"I have issued directives to all the district health officers (DHOs) to send their extra ventilators and other equipment to tertiary care hospitals," he said, adding that it would be returned once the endemic is over and directing the DHOs to expedite the exercise.

Shah also inquired all deputy commissioners, DHOs, and elected representatives about the isolation centers and facilities in their respective districts, urging them to ensure proper lockdowns.

Testing SOP

The chief minister said there were standard operating procedures (SOPs) for testing, under which people with travel history and symptoms were required to be tested. Anyone without symptoms would be tested, he added.

Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said there were 14 experts who would visit different districts to train the personnel on obtaining samples from individuals suspected of having COVID-19 and sending them to Karachi or Hyderabad.

Thalassemia patients

With regard to thalassemia patients, Shah told the provincial health department to issue necessary instructions to the regional blood banks and centres to provide blood for them.

"I am worried about the patients, particularly the children,” he said, adding that they must be administered required blood as per schedule.

Dr Pechuho assured the CM that she was issuing directives to the regional blood banks and centres to provide blood for the thalassemia patients.