Five major cities — Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Karachi — contribute 70 per cent of coronavirus cases in Pakistan, according to the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) data released on Sunday.
A meeting of the NCOC was informed that Mirpur (Azad Jammu and Kashmir), Hyderabad, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Peshawar were among the top cities with persistently rising positivity ratio.
During the last one week, 46 deaths and around 3,000 new cases were recorded daily on an average. However, the tally of new cases during the past 24 hours dropped to 2,829, with 43 deaths.
So far 395,185 cases have been detected since the outbreak of the virus in Pakistan. Of them, 7,985 people have died and 339,810 recovered. Currently, 47,390 people have been suffering from the deadly virus. Among these, 2,186 are stated to be in critical condition and the number of critical patients is rising fast.
The NCOC meeting took stock of data related to positivity ratio, occupancy of oxygenated beds and ventilators across the country, besides availability of medical equipment for treatment and enforcement of smart lockdowns and other measures to curb the second wave of Covid-19.
Health experts briefed the meeting on the national positivity ratio of 7.01pc, explaining that the positivity ratio — counted through number of positive cases in 100 samples — was 16.58pc in Azad Kashmir, 15.31pc in Sindh, 9.12pc in Balochistan, 5.56pc in Gilgit-Baltistan, 5.30pc in Islamabad, 5.31pc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 3.45pc in Punjab.
According to them, Mirpur (AJK) has the highest positivity ratio (24.85pc), followed by Hyderabad (22.18pc), Karachi (18.96pc), Muzaffarabad (17.95pc), Peshawar (11.12pc), Quetta (8.84pc), Rawalpindi (6.80pc), Gilgit (6.77pc) and Lahore (4pc).
Critical cases, ventilators
While 2,964 patients were on oxygenated beds on Sunday, 2,186 of them were in critical condition. Punjab has 620 critical patients, Sindh 681, KP 488, Islamabad 315, AJK 50 and Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan have 16 patients each.
The NCOC was informed that 45 of the 71 ventilators were occupied in Islamabad, 34 of the 112 ventilators were occupied in Peshawar, 63 of the 239 ventilators were occupied in Lahore and 61 of the 404 ventilators were occupied in Karachi.
About 71pc of the patients who died were male, 76pc were over the age of 50 years, 72pc had chronic comorbidities and 91pc remained hospitalised. However, according to the NCOC, the country’s mortality rate was 2.02pc, compared to global average of 2.33pc.
Meanwhile, the federal cabinet in its meeting scheduled for Tuesday is likely to consider extension in the deputation tenure of the executive director of the National Institute of Health (NIH), who has been working without extension in the contract since July.
The agenda of the cabinet meeting includes consideration of an unprecedented summary submitted by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) proposing one-year extension in the deputation period of Major General Aamer Ikram as NIH executive director by quashing recruitment rules for the BS-21 post notified by the Establishment Division.
As per SRO 2013, the lead position of the premier public health institute is to be filled 80pc by promotion and 20pc by direct recruitment. Currently, the filling of the BS-21 post is due on promotion from amongst senior chiefs of the NIH (BS-20).
As per the notified rules, Dr Rana Mohammad Safdar, chief of the Disease Surveillance Division of the Institute, is eligible for promotion and the government procedures bar filling the promotion posts through deputation in instances where eligible candidates are available.
An official of the health ministry, requesting anonymity, said the ministry had appointed Brig Aamer to the position in 2016 for a period of one year. While approving this appointment as one-time dispensation only, then prime minister Nawaz Sharif had directed the ministry to fill the post according to the defined rules and procedures.
The PML-N government had again granted extension to the officer in 2018 for two years. While the extended period of his deputation ended on July 20 this year, the officer, who also got promotion in the meantime, continued to work in the same position.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of NHS Sajid Shah told Dawn that the country has been passing through the second wave of Covid-19 and, therefore, it was necessary to ensure continuation of policies.
“Dr Aamir Ikram has been working for the last around four years and understands issues related to the health sector. That is why it is suggested to move a case for extension of Dr Ikram,” he said.