Islamabad hospitals face low oxygen pressure as COVID-19 cases rise

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Representative image
Representative image

Islamabad [Pakistan], April 23 (ANI): Crisis looms large over major hospitals in Pakistan as they approach saturation due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The situation in Islamabad seems to be particularly precarious as the largest medical facility here, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), is struggling with low oxygen pressure amidst a tidal wave of COVID-19 patients, Geo reported.

Pakistan is reeling under the third wave of coronavirus. The country has reported new 144 fatalities due to coronavirus, raising the total death tally to 16,842 on Friday. So far, 784,108 cases have been reported in Pakistan.

According to the latest data by the National Command and Operation Centre on its official web portal, 5,870 new coronavirus cases have been recorded, Geo News reported.

At least 53,818 coronavirus tests were conducted across the country in the last 24 hours, out of which 5,870 came back positive.

A critical situation was reported at PIMS on April 18, when ventilators reserved for coronavirus patients started sounding alarms.

The ventilator alarms are triggered when the pressure of oxygen being supplied to a patient drops below the required level. On that day, it dropped from 100 percent to 70 percent.

The incident caused panic at the facility as there were five patients on ventilators at the time in the coronavirus intensive care ward. At the time, there were 147 patients occupying the 183 beds allocated for Covid-19 patients at the hospital. A separate 30 patients were in the hospital's emergency ward.

The situation was serious as most of the patients affected were dependent on 'high flow oxygen' for survival -- a medical condition where they need more oxygen in comparison to ordinary patients as they suffer from acute breathing difficulties.

When contacted, Joint Executive Director PIMS Dr Minhaj-us-Siraj told Geo News that the drop in oxygen pressure was mainly attributable to the sharp increase in the number of coronavirus patients at the hospital and the need to continuously supply oxygen to them.

The PIMS administration explained that the health facility's storage tank is in fact full of oxygen. The real issue is to maintain oxygen pressure as the oxygen supply lines running through the hospital are in excessive use owing to an unprecedented number of patients needing oxygen for life support.

Among the hospitals catering to the capital city, the Federal Government and Social Security hospitals do not have proper arrangements for high flow oxygen beds, according to the health ministry.

There is no ventilator available for COVID-19 patients at these facilities either.

Recently, Pakistan Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar expressed concerns as Oxygen supply capacity in the country is now under stress and hospitals are filling up.

Global covid cases exceeding 750,000 per day and deaths more than 13,000. We are seeing some of the worst numbers since covid started. Our neighbourhood in severe crises... Need for safety precautions greater than ever," Pakistan Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar tweeted.

"Hospital fill up continuing to grow. Critical care patients now above 4500, which is 30 percent higher than peak in June last year. Oxygen supply capacity in the country is now under stress. Sop compliance remains low. We are making a huge mistake by not following sop's," he added. (ANI)