Thursday Apr 22 2021

Gujranwala DHQ Hospital battles rising coronavirus deaths amid govt 'indifference'

Routine night round of  HDU COVID-19 and COVID-19 Isolation Wards by Medical Superintendent Dr Fazal ur Rehman, at DHQ Teaching Hospital Gujranwala, on April 15, 2021. — Facebook/DHQ Hospital Gujranwala
  • Gujranwala's only hospital buckling under the weight of rising coronavirus cases with allegedly no response by the government.
  • So far the district has reported 7,288 cases, of which 237 have died, far higher than deaths in Sialkot, Gujrat, Narowal, Mandi Bahauddin and Hafizabad.
  • The dejected administration has had to make do with donations from philanthropists in the past.
  • Residents are protesting the "indifference" and demand a probe.

The death toll of coronavirus patients at Gujranwala's District Headquarters Hospital has risen alarmingly, according to figures released by the health department.

So far, 237 patients infected with coronavirus have died at DHQ Hospital, amid what the hospital alleges to be an "indifferent" attitude by the Punjab government.

According to hospital sources, one of the reasons why Gujranwala, compared to other districts, has such a high fatality rate, is because its DHQ Hospital is "not sufficiently equipped" to handle a pandemic such as this.

When the third coronavirus wave hit Pakistan, and when the number of cases ballooned in Gujranwala, the hospital administration wrote to the Punjab government to apprise them of the gravity of the situation.

The letter cited the need for an increased number of ventilators and oxygen beds on a war footing, as well Rs70 million in emergency funds for medicines and safety equipment.

The Punjab government, however, never responded to the letter, claims the hospital, adding that this prompted them to send three more letters.

The letters paint a grim picture of the burgeoning number of outpatient cases and a lack of equipment to deal with the situation, but the hospital claims that the Punjab government has yet to provide more ventilators, oxygen beds or funds for medicines and safety equipment.

A dejected administration was then forced to knock the doors of philanthropic individuals. Fortunately, these donations not only made it possible to increase the number of high flow oxygen beds but also procure three types of shots that coronavirus patients are administered over the course of their treatment.

Also read: Gujranwala medical superintendent braves fury of protesters, gets oxygen cylinders to hospital

The residents of Gujranwala have strongly protested the alleged lack of response or action by the provincial government and have demanded a probe into the matter and action against those responsible.

The district, with its population of over 5.5 million, only has the one government hospital to turn to at a time when the coronavirus crisis is spiralling in Punjab.

The 730-bed hospital already was near breaking point with a high number of patients but now as the situation worsens, it is again left without enough equipment to cater to existing patients, let alone see to new admissions.

According to the health department, so far 7,288 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Gujranwala, of which 237 people died at the DHQ Hospital.

This fatality rate is much higher than those of other districts.

In Sialkot, so far 6,184 cases have been reported, whereas 147 people have died.

Similarly, in Gujrat, 6,009 cases have been recorded, of which 107 fell victim to the virus.

In Narowal, 519 cases have been registered, of which only 20 died, in Mandi Bahauddin, total infections stand at 1,487 and deaths at 12, and in Hafizabad, cases number 1,487, whereas deaths amount to 15.

The Gujranwala DHQ Hospital administration has said that the majority of the coronavirus patients brought to the hospital require oxygen. Currently, there are 64 patients under treatment, of which 20 are said to be in a critical state.

With the district's sole medical facility buckling under the weight of a rapidly worsening situation, the hospital wonders how many more lives will be lost before the government springs into action.