Will Pakistan import oxygen from Iran and China?

The PIMS has postponed all elective and planned surgeries due to the increasing influx of COVID-19 patients. Pakistan may face an oxygen supply crisis in the future, experts fear. Will Pakistan import oxygen?

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Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said Tuesday Pakistan will import oxygen from Iran and China if the country’s coronavirus situation worsens. The minister was addressing a press conference where he was speaking about the coronavirus situation in the country.

Chaudhry said Pakistan would import oxygen from Iran and China if the coronavirus situation in the country worsens. He said it was a bit difficult to bring oxygen into the country from other states as it is not possible to transport it into the country via air.

“Oxygen has to be transported via land,” he said, adding that while Pakistan is facing a crisis, there is still no need to panic right now.

The minister also spoke about the coronavirus vaccination process, adding that two million Pakistanis had received the coronavirus jab till now.  “More than one billion people across the world have gotten vaccinated,” he said, urging Pakistanis not to be hesitant regarding the vaccine’s side effects.

Read more: Modi asks Indians to do better to stop COVID-19 amid new surge

However, the minister said vaccines were a short-term solution to the problem and its results would take time to have an impact.  “[While vaccinations are necessary and the process is underway] the government is currently more concerned with how to reduce the number of infections on a week-to-week basis,” he said.

PIMS postpones all surgeries

The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) has postponed all elective and planned surgeries due to the increasing influx of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients. The hospital administration in this regard issued an official order to all heads of clinical departments to postpone elective and planned surgeries due to the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.

However, surgeries in an emergency will continue in the hospital, said the official order.

The circular issued said, “It is circulated for compliance of all heads of clinical departments that due to heavy load of Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in third wave, all the elective/planned surgeries in PIMS may be postponed except emergency surgeries only.”

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% to 70%.

According to the data available, the hospital has 183 COVID-19 beds and 151 are occupied while 32 are still vacant. Details said that the hospital has a total 21 COVID-19 ventilators out of which four are under use and 17 are vacant.

The document containing the data said that there are 27 oxygen beds out of which 14 are available while beds for low flow are completely occupied. “All 20 low flow beds are occupied,” said a senior official.

Officials at PIMS said that hospital administration decided to halt elective surgeries to keep the oxygen supply in flow for COVID-19 patients admitted in wards. Officials said that the reason for halting elective surgeries is to maintain oxygen pressure for COVID-19 patients.  The daily oxygen supply of the hospital has been increased to 7,000 litres, the hospital and the oxygen pressure of the ventilators for corona patients was low last night.

Officials said that oxygen pressure will get affected for COVID-19 patients if the surgeries were not suspended and oxygen tank is currently being filled every 15 hours.

Media Coordinator PIMS Dr. Waseem Khawaja confirmed that the surgeries have been postponed due to the influx of COVID-19 patients in the hospital. He said that the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital is increasing every day and the hospital had to decide to maintain the oxygen for the COVID-19 patients.

He said that despite this emergency situation the surgeries in emergency will continue. He said that so far there is no shortage of oxygen in the hospital but the decision has been taken as a preventive measure.

The COVID-19 situation report of the city had stated that above 60 per cent beds and 50 per cent ventilators allocated for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in the federal capital hospitals were occupied by infected patients.

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The report said that 807 beds and 112 ventilators have been allocated in 15 public and private sector hospitals of the city. However, till 15 April, 508 beds and 56 ventilators were occupied with the COVID-19 patients.

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