COVID-19 patients to soon emerge from every home: Sindh health minister

KARACHI: Hospitals will not have beds to spare soon as the pandemic is out of control in the country, said Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho on Thursday, warning that coronavirus cases would soon emerge from every home.

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This was said by the minister during a session of the Sindh Assembly. The provincial assembly started the formal debate on the COVID-19 crisis in the province. The session was requisitioned by the opposition.

Pechuho said there had been an exponential rise in the coronavirus cases in the country since the lockdown had been lifted by mid May. Had there been continuity in the lockdown, the ongoing health crisis would not have become so grim, she remarked.

She added that a similar upsurge of coronavirus cases had been earlier witnessed in developed countries like Italy and the United States where the number of beds and ventilators in hospitals had become insufficient to treat patients of the deadly epidemic.

Without naming the federal authorities, she criticised statements given by them that described the coronavirus as something similar to a flu or any other common respiratory disease.

The country would be devastated owing to such lenient handling of the coronavirus crisis by the federal authorities, the health minister remarked. “These people want hundreds of thousands of people to die while hundreds of thousands of people face immense hardships as they get no hospital bed. This is going to happen as this is what it seems after the steep rise in cases we have witnessed.”

She said the demands of the Sindh government for enforcing lockdown in the country, implementing social distancing measures, and provision of facial masks to the people had been disregarded by the federal government.

“One person used to say that people should not be afraid of corona as we need to fight it but this is no way to do the fighting,” Pechuho said without naming the federal authority whose statement about COVID-19 disease she was referring to.

She added that the prime minister sent a very wrong message to the people regarding the adoption of social distancing measures when on television screens he was seen having meetings with up to 50 people in attendance without wearing a mask.

She lamented that the country had been deprived of any direction and able leadership, due to which the health care management system of every province and region had to face a grim crisis.

The minister maintained that the coronavirus crisis had become unbearable in other provinces also as she mentioned a report of the Punjab government that presented an estimate of up to 700,000 COVID-19 cases in Lahore alone.

The entire country was going to face unbearable consequences owing to inappropriate decisions of the prime minister, the health minister said.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan MPA Khawaja Izharul Hassan criticised the Sindh government for failing to ensure people’s well-being during the lockdown. He was of the view that lockdown measures could not be enforced in a city like Karachi where people did not have adequate housing facilities.

He said the provincial government had completely failed to check the price hike of essential commodities during the lockdown. He added that the decision to launch an online education system for students of the government-run schools was highly ill-advised and could not be implemented as the poor did not have internet and computer facilities. People belonging to all the communities were dissatisfied with the lockdown measures of the provincial government, Hassan asserted.

The MQM-P legislator said the provincial government should come into action to take care of the unbearable issue of municipal garbage that was not being lifted by the relevant civic agencies.

PTI MPA Haleem Adil Sheikh said the provincial ministers did not visit their constituencies during the lockdown as they had become afraid of the infectious disease. Instead, opposition politicians had come to the rescue of the people in distress during the lockdown, he added.

He said the Sindh government had completely failed to distribute food rations among needy families during the lockdown. Mere speeches delivered by provincial authorities were not enough to feed the people, he remarked, adding that a large section of the population in the province did not have enough food to have meals twice a day.

Shaharyar Khan Mahar, MPA of the Grand Democratic Alliance, said the Sindh government had failed to start coronavirus testing service in cities and towns of the province other than Karachi in a timely fashion.

Apart from the daily statements and press conferences done by the provincial authorities, including the chief minister, the Sindh government did not take any concrete steps against the spread of the novel coronavirus in the province, he maintained.

The provincial government, according to Mahar, had made a mockery of the relief work by distributing just 125 ration bags in each of the union councils during the coronavirus crisis. The Sindh Assembly will continue its debate on the COVID-19 crisis today (Friday).

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