KARACHI: The government of Sindh on Thursday released Rs7.21 billion to tackle the novel coronavirus threat after another four patients tested positive and 40 new ‘social contact’ cases were identified, bumping the provincial tally to 217.
Speaking during the 22nd meeting of the task force on coronavirus at the CM House, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that Rs6.9 billion of the total sum would be given to the provincial health department to buy medicines, equipment, generators, diet charges, sanitisers, kits, and swabs.
The remaining Rs310 million would be allotted to Commissioner Sukkur Shafique Ahmed Mahesar in a bid to contain and combat the COVID-19 threat.
He, however, added that he has released Rs16.7 million and another Rs15.1 million to Mahesar to prepare an isolation centre at Sukkur’s Labour Colony, purchase equipment, hire vehicles, as well as for food expenses and proper care of the pilgrims who had arrived from Taftan in two phases.
“I’ll make more funds available to contain, curb, and combat the threat of coronavirus but this will be possible when we all will work together with spirit,” Shah said.
1,018 tests conducted
The chief minister was told that four new cases were diagnosed in Karachi, bringing the metropolis’ aggregate to 66, of which locally-transmitted ones had reached 40.
In addition, one patient was in Hyderabad and 151 in Sukkur, bring the number of positive coronavirus cases to 217 in the province.
The Sindh health department conducted tests of 1,018 suspected patients, of which 952 were declared negative and 66 positive.
Of the 302 Taftan/Sukkur pilgrims, 151 tested positive and another 151 negative.
Eight of the 66 cases travelled to Syria, six to Saudi Arabia, four to Iran, three to Dubai, two to Switzerland, one each to Qatar and Turkey, whereas 40 had travelled locally. Of the 66 total cases, 64 are under treatment.
757 new pilgrims at Taftan
Almost 757 new pilgrims arrived from Taftan, the chief minister was told during the meeting. The commissioner, in this regard, noted that so far, 180 samples of the new pilgrims were taken and sent to Karachi for testing.
Separately, another batch of 88 pilgrims from Taftan reached Larkana where they were kept in an isolation centre set up at the Airja campus of the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University (SMBBMU). Shah consequently directed the health department to send them swabs and diagnostic kits to test the pilgrims.
Sindh health department informed the CM that on his instruction, the testing capacity had been bumped up.
The Indus Hospital had increased its capacity from 200 to 800, Dr Ziauddin Hospitals and the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) at 50 and 200 tests, respectively, Sindh Institute of Urology & Transplantation (SIUT) up to 100 per day, and the Dow University of Health Sciences’ (DUHS) Ojha campus up to 100 per day. This translates to the total capacity rising from 400 to 1,250 tests a day.
Furthermore, a 23-bed isolation centre has been set up at the SIUT.
CM Shah has directed the People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI) Sindh, as well as the public and district headquarters (DHQ) hospitals to explore ways and means to start testing facilities.
Suspected coronavirus patients
The meeting was told that the Sindh government hospitals had reported 1,874 suspected coronavirus patients with pneumonia symptoms; 43 of them had severe symptoms and their samples were consequently sent for testing.
The private hospitals, on the other hand, reported 702 suspected cases, of which samples of 33 had been taken for testing.
Airport authorities told CM Shah that 24 flights were scheduled today, of which 10 were cancelled and the remaining brought 3,209 passengers to the city.
All passengers had been screened. Only one was a suspected case and, therefore, a sample was taken from him. The result is pending.