Isolation rooms, testing facilities and quarantine centres are being set up in the province
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government confirmed its first coronavirus case on March 16. It said there were 15 of them. These people were among the 19 pilgrims returning from Iran. The province has set up a quarantine centre for over 225 other pilgrims in Dera Ismail Khan who are expected to return from Iran in the coming days.
“We have arranged 1,000 beds in 26 hospitals of the province to treat these patients. Twenty more hospitals will be on standby. A quarantine centre has been set up in Dera Ismail Khan and another at the Levies Centre in the Khyber district where coronavirus patients will be taken care of,” says Ajmal Wazir, a spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.
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Apart from arranging isolation rooms and providing testing facilities at certain hospitals, the authorities are making sure there are no large gatherings in any part of the province. The KP government has closed educational institutions, wedding halls and other places where crowds could gather. The government has also ordered vacations for government employees above the age of 50 so that they stay remain home and self-isolate.
The government has also set up a helpline (1700) for updates on the virus or to provide any information in case of any suspicious patient.
Doctors say that while people must take precautionary measures there is no need for panic. “Coronavirus causes very mild illness in around 80 per cent cases. In around 15 per cent cases it could cause severe disease and will need medical consultation. And in around 5 per cent cases, it could get very severe and may need ICU care,” says Professor Dr M Noor Wazir, head of medicine department at the Hayatabad Medical Complex.
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Doctors fear that a sudden surge in cases would result in an emergency situation requiring hundreds of ventilators and intensive medical care. Given that the province currently has only 200 ventilators in the public health sector, this could pose a serious problem.
The writer is a journalist in KP and Fata. He may be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @JavedAzizKhan