Thursday Jul 29 2021
Web Desk

Why does Karachi desperately need a coronavirus lockdown?

Web Desk
A man wearing a protective mask walks through a crowd of people along a makeshift market as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Karachi. Photo: Reuters
A man wearing a protective mask walks through a crowd of people along a makeshift market as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Karachi. Photo: Reuters

Coronavirus is spreading in Karachi like wildfire. The positivity rate has surged past 30%, hospitals are running out of space, the demand for oxygen tanks is increasing and daily cases are continuing to pile up.

Given the alarming rise in cases, Pakistan Medical Association Secretary-General Dr Qaiser Sajjad has suggested imposing a 15-day lockdown in the metropolis.

Dr Sajjad believes that if we count those people who have not taken a PCR test for COVID-19, the positivity ratio in the city has likely reached 40%.

Read more: PMA calls for 15-day lockdown in Karachi as coronavirus cases rise

It is expected that a decision to impose a lockdown in Karachi may be taken in the provincial coronavirus task force meeting tomorrow (Friday).

Shahzeb Khanzada, the host of Geo News programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath had a chat with JDC Welfare Foundation chief Zafar Abbas and Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab over the current situation in Karachi, whether a lockdown is needed and what the way forward is.

You can watch their full interview here.

'Terribly dangerous start to fourth coronavirus wave'

The JDC Welfare Foundation chief said that considering NCOC and other such institutions are saying that the new (fourth) wave has just started, then it is a terribly dangerous start.

There is a wait of over two hours at local dispensaries, he said, adding that the biggest load of the city is being handled by the Expo Centre. He said the centre's administrator, Brigadier Muhammad Shehzad, told him that there has been no space for new patients at Expo since the last 15 days.

Over a 100 patients are on ventilators, which is a first in over two years, the centre's administrator told Abbas. The rest of the patients are on oxygen tanks.

What is the situation at major hospitals in Karachi?

Abbas gave an update on the condition at all major hospitals.

Jinnah hospital, which is being headed by Dr Seemin Jamali, has moved to a third ward after running out of space in two of its wards within four days. Karachi Administrator Laeeq Ahmed told him Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, too, ran out of space in its first ward and has now set up a second one for COVID-19 patients. The hospital had to import machinery for the new ward.

Read more: Karachi’s coronavirus positivity rate surges to over 30%

The problem, he said, is that when you go to big hospitals they turn you away saying they don't have enough beds or that doctors are not ready to come to them to treat COVID-19. Abbas questioned why representatives of big hospitals then make television appearances and make tall claims. 

He said the situation is getting stranger and stranger and people are not taking it seriously.

He called for the government to immediately set up quarantine centres in every neighbourhood, saying that the space of so many educational institutions is available for use.

'Private hospital mafia is only minting money'

Abbas highlighted that there is a terrible need for oxygen tanks and ventilators and criticised private hospitals for billing ICU patients through the roof.

He said the private hospital mafia is only minting money and action is needed.

Hospitals should specify how many COVID-19 beds they have available, he said, explaining that people are running from pillar to post in search of space at hospitals for sick family members.

What does the government have to say?

Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab told Khanzada that the Sindh CM met representative of private and public sector hospitals a day earlier and the process to increase hospital capacity has started.

He said that the CM has requested the private sector hospitals to support the government like they did last year. He assured that details about the increase in capacity will be shared within a day or two.

Commenting on a possible lockdown in Karachi, Wahab said that the provincial task force will decide on it tomorrow (Friday).

He said the situation, in his opinion, is dangerous in Karachi and Hyderabad. Immediate decisions are needed, he said, adding that the spike can still be controlled.

He said the federal government will also be taken on board and that the next 12-15 days are critical.

Coronavirus death rate in Sindh reaches 1.6%

On Wednesday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that during the last 24 hours, the province saw 24 deaths stemming from COVID-19, making it one of the highest numbers in the province so far. Meanwhile, 2,672 new cases were detected from across Sindh.

“This situation is enough to assess the severity of the pandemic during the fourth wave, therefore, we have to be alert to control the situation."

According to the statement, out of 2,672 new cases, 2,042 have been detected from Karachi. Explaining district-wise statistics, CM Shah said Karachi has 2,042 new cases, of them 744 in East, 475 South, 404 Central, 209 Korangi, 116 Malir, and 94 in West.