The coronavirus pandemic may lead to a surge in the number of critically-ill patients and shortage of ventilators in the intensive care units of teaching hospitals in Pakistan in the coming weeks.
Medical and health experts say, however, that the situation is not as alarming as is being portrayed, as currently only around 30-40% ventilators are occupied in Punjab.
According to the official figures, 1,296 ventilators are available at the state-run teaching hospitals of Punjab. Of them, 40 are non-functional.
The hospitals may become overburdened in the coming weeks as the province has witnessed 20% surge in the number of patients coming with respiratory failure during home isolation due to the severity of the virus.
“The next seven days are very critical for us, as the incubation period for Covid-19 after relaxation of lockdown on May 14 has almost come to an end,” says Mayo Hospital chief executive Prof Dr Asad Aslam Khan.
The Covid-19 respiratory disease is caused by the coronavirus.
He is supervising and leading the healthcare arrangements for coronavirus patients in state-run health facilities in Lahore.
Quoting research from China, Aslam Khan said that patients take between five days to two weeks to develop symptoms of the coronavirus.
“At present, we are not facing any disturbing situation in respect of availability of facilities for the treatment of critical patients of Covid-19,” he said.
However, hospitals are feeling an impact of Covid-19 pandemic as they have started receiving patients with severe cases of the disease or lung failure.
“The home isolation has eased massive burden on the hospitals but for the medics, the intensive care unit (ICU) management would be the next area of concern due to expected influx of critically-ill Covid-19 patients,” Aslam Khan said.
The Mayo Hospital chief executive, who is also member of the Punjab Corona Experts Advisory Group, shared the latest information on Covid-19 patients in Lahore’s public and private hospitals.
He said that 1,587 confirmed patients admitted to the government and private hospitals in Lahore had been discharged after recovering completely.
Of them, 1,220 were discharged from state-run and 367 from private hospitals of the provincial capital, he said.
“Only 488 patients of the virus are under treatment, at both private and government hospitals of Lahore,” he said.
Of them, he said, 67 were in the ICUs of Lahore’s hospitals – 43 in the ICUs of private hospitals and 24 in the ICUs of state-run hospitals.
Of the 67, 31 patients are on ventilators – 19 in government hospitals and 12 in private hospitals.
“The statistics show that the situation is not so much alarming. But it may aggravate in coming days as the hospitals are now receiving patients quarantined at their respective homes, he said. “We have total 50 ventilators in ICU of Mayo Hospital, and of them 30% are occupied by the critical patients of Covid-19.”
The Punjab government had completed procurement of around 250 ventilators for the treatment of critical patients of Covid-19, he said.
Twenty patients died of the virus in the past two days while 1,097 others tested positive.
As many as 352 people have died of the virus in Punjab, including 132 in the provincial capital.
The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Punjab has crossed the 20,000 mark: of these, 9,915 are in Lahore, 1,698 in Rawalpindi, 1,399 in Multan, 1,239 in Gujranwala, and 1,025 in Faisalabad.
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