ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has released guidance for the upcoming Christmas events to deter the spread of the virus with casualties from Covid-19 continuing to mount across the country.
In the other hand, a study found that in three cities of the world, over 41 percent of healthcare workers working with coronavirus patients have faced abuse.
The staff of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) in Islamabad, where more than 100 vital Covid-19 patients are under care, may suspend service in the coming week at the coronavirus ward in another creation.
According to data released by the NCOC, there were 87 deaths and 3,179 new cases reported on Saturday, with 279 ventilators in use nationally.
46pc of the vents reserved for Covid-19 patients were occupied in Multan, 41pc in Islamabad, 34pc in Lahore and 21pc in Peshawar were in use.
As of December 19, the number of active cases was reported at 40,921, with a national positivity ratio of 6.61pc. The highest positive ratio was recorded at 11.8pc in Karachi, followed by 9.23pc in Peshawar and 7.92pc in Mirpur.
Terming Christmas-related incidents a big risk, the NCOC released recommendations to minimise the transmission of the virus from person to person.
Christmas activities could amplify virus spread and potentially disrupt the response capability of the nation. The smartest thing that can be done during this Christmas holiday with the pandemic in full fury is to stay home. During holiday preparations and festivities, minimal in-person connections should be created. In such cases, stopping the importation of the virus from one household to another and from different locations, such as shopping malls and churches, is an important factor in preventing or mitigating the occurrence of transmission and severe outbreaks in these areas and beyond. The public, especially the Christian community, need safeguards to protect themselves and avoid transmission,” the centre said.
It requested individuals during the holidays to perform the least possible travel.
Social visits can be stopped during the holidays and family get-togethers. Christmas shopping should be limited to minimal necessities only and it is not necessary to crowd in markets. The typical exchanging of presents and large-scale home celebrations are likely to increase transmission, so they should also be prevented,” it said.”
The NCOC also recommended that the length of celebrations should be limited and Christmas trees and decorations in public areas should be routinely disinfected.
Churches were asked to organise thermal peoples scanning at entrance gates while preachers could deliver virus sermons and preventive measures. Windows and church doors should be left open on Christmas day for drainage, no carpets or mats should be laid down as the virus was airborne, benches should be periodically cleaned with chlorinated water, and everybody should wear a mask during prayers and keep a distance of at least one metre from others.
Health workers face violence
According to a report conducted with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) by the APPNA Institute of Public Health (Jinnah Sindh Medical University Karachi), the University of Lahore and Khyber Medical University, over 41 percent of healthcare workers taking care of Covid-19 patients faced some sort of verbal and physical abuse while battling in the three cities of Pakistan
The research surveyed 356 healthcare staff from 24 health institutions in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar, including physicians, paramedics and laboratory technicians.
“In Pakistan, there is an erosion of trust between patients and health workers,” said Dr Mirwais Khan, who heads the ICRC’s Health Care in Danger (HCiD) initiative.
“We needed to see if it was getting worse with Covid-19,” he said.
The study conducted in May and June during the height of the first coronavirus wave in Pakistan found that during their Covid-19 response, 41.9pc participants encountered abuse, with 6pc reporting physical attack.
The study identified aggression to include verbal and physical abuse by patients and their families as well as shame and ostracisation.
A third of those interviewed reported being wrongly accused of causing patients to suffer injury or death.
A medical registrar at a hospital in Karachi said that facing a “barrage of insults” while on duty was “demoralising.”
Among the suggestions provided by the report to help bring in a shift of mindset towards health workers are countering social media misconceptions, providing greater resources for healthcare workers at work in coping with interpersonal pressures, educating them to interact effectively with patients and their caregivers, and de-escalating abuse.
The factors that led to the rise of hospital violence included the order of attendants to quickly hand over bodies and not to mention Covid-19 as the cause of death.
A doctor from a Peshawar public-sector hospital said: “They wanted to take the body immediately because they were afraid that the community would otherwise not attend the funeral of the dead.”
The doctor at the Lahore Private Hospital said: “I felt very disheartened and tired.” I have stopped fighting it. I nearly committed to all the costs.
A big impact was also reflected by family problems and pressure to stop work or take temporary leave.
The study proposes a path forward by creating trust in healthcare staff and the public, dispelling misconceptions and disinformation, strengthening institutional procedures to resolve patient care problems and improving the response by improving protection and monitoring to any untoward event.
As Federal Grand Health Alliance (GHA) Chairman Dr Asfandyar Khan announced on Saturday that the Pims workers were pressing the alliance to suspend services at the coronavirus ward, the lives of about 100 critical patients may be at stake.
We have been campaigning against the hospital’s privatisation, but sadly the government is less interested in tackling our concerns. Most workers conclude that since the hospital will be privatised, they should suspend service to prevent illness as they will be fired from their employment sooner or later, he added.
Read Also: Pakistan’s first drive-in cinema opens
Mr Khan said it would be tragic to take such a move, but the GHA would have no choice but to terminate service in the coming week in the event of a joint decision.
Dr Minhajus Siraj, Joint Executive Director of Pims, said that there were about 100 critical patients in the hospital who could not survive without the staff being constantly monitored as their oxygen level fluctuated.
Last month, President Dr Arif Alvi released a Medical Teaching Institution (MTI) Ordinance in which once it becomes an MTI, a Board of Governors (BoG) will deal with Pims’ affairs.
The BoG, the founders of which were told by the Ministry of National Health Services, would have authority over the hospital’s operations and would be empowered to fire staff. They will thus, in effect, forfeit the rank of civil servants.
Over the past three weeks, staff have mobilised against the ordinance, halting all facilities but the emergency room and the coronavirus ward.