Karachi hospitals begin turning patients away as Delta variant takes hold

Residents wait for their coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses, at a vaccination center in Karachi, Pakistan, April 2, 2021. — Reuters/Akhtar Soomro
Residents wait for their coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses, at a vaccination center in Karachi, Pakistan, April 2, 2021. — Reuters/Akhtar Soomro

KARACHI: The spread of the coronavirus Delta variant is reaching alarming levels in Karachi on the eve of the Eid ul Adha holiday as public and some private sector hospitals are reaching capacity and have started refusing patients, medical officials said on Tuesday.

The Sindh provincial government said on Monday that the COVID-19 situation in the city is becoming serious, and warned people that ignoring precautionary measures during the holiday could make matters worse.

During the past 24 hours, the coronavirus positivity rate in the Sindh capital increased to 25.7%, nearly five times the national rate of 5.25%.

Government hospitals have reached saturation point, something not witnessed during previous waves, and even some private hospitals are refusing patients, said Dr Qaiser Sajjad, secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association.

“God have mercy on us, people are not taking this pandemic seriously. Such irresponsible behavior on the Eid festival will make matters worse,” Sajjad told Reuters.

The Delta variant could spread during the holiday as people travel from cities like Karachi to their home towns.

According to the Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Karachi, there is 92.2% prevalence of the Delta variant in the city.

Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the Jinnah Hospital, Karachi’s biggest, told Reuters that 77 out of its 90 coronavirus beds were occupied and it was planned to add more.

“We did not face such a capacity situation during previous waves,” Jamali said. “The situation is getting pretty bad.”

Eid ul Adha and upcoming elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on July 25 could prove to be super spreader events, as government and opposition are busy holding big public gatherings, the two doctors warned.

Last week, Minister for Planning Asad Umar said hospitals were seeing a rapid build-up in the influx of COVID patients. He had earlier warned of a fourth wave if precautionary measures were not followed.

Karachi reports 1,366 new cases

Sindh recorded 1,648 new cases in the last 24 hours, of which the majority — 1,366 — were detected in Karachi, a statement by Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah said.

According to the statement, 19 more patients of coronavirus died overnight lifting the death toll to 5,756 in the province and translating to a 1.6% death rate.

After 16,364 tests were conducted, 1,648 new cases emerged, which means a 10.1% positivity ratio, said the statement.

Currently 32,620 patients are under treatment, of which 31,513 are in home isolation, 1,036 are at different hospitals and 71 patients are in isolation centres. The condition of 975 patients was stated to be critical, with 64 shifted to ventilators.

The district wise case distribution in Sindh was reported as follows:

Karachi East – 487
Karachi West – 76
Karachi South – 279
Karachi Korangi – 192
Karachi Central – 177
Karachi Malir – 155
Hyderabad – 81
Dadu – 20
Badin, Jamshoro and Umarkot – 18 each
Sanghar – 15
Noushehro Feroz – 13
Tharparkar and Thatto – 12 each
Sukkur and Tando Muhammad Khan – 10 each
Tando Allahyar – 9
Kashmore – 7
Mirpurkhas and NawabShah – 4 each,
Ghotki & Matiari-  2 each
Jacobabad – 1

CM Shah urged people to abide by the safety precautions issued by the government.


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