ISLAMABAD   -  Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) on Monday cancelled scheduled elective surgeries in the hospital due to rise in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

The hospital has issued a notification cancelling all elective surgeries and limited the healthcare services of surgeries upto emergency and to treat the cancer patients.

Officials at PIMS informed The Nation that the decision of cancelling elective surgeries has been taken after the Anesthesia Department complained about shortage of the staff.

Officials said that Anesthesia Department informed the hospital administration that it is facing shortage of staff during COVID-19 and cannot perform duties in surgeries.

However, the surgical department insisted to continue the procedures as there was a long waiting list. The administration decided to proceed with the emergency and cancer surgeries.

Officials said that the waiting lists of patients scheduled for surgeries have been stretched to eight months.

PIMS Media Coordinator Dr. Waseem Khawaja talking to The Nation said that that the surgeries have been postponed due to rise in COVID-19 cases.

He said that number of anesthesia staff is being utilised in the COVID-19 ward. PIMS media coordinator also said that as the second COVID-19 wave is hitting the country again, an emergency like situation can emerge. According to the data available with The Nation, so far 67 doctors and other staff of PIMS have been infected with COVID-19 since the cases started emerging again, and have been quarantined.

PIMS doctors and staff infected with the virus were from Admin, Main Emergency, Blood Bank, Cardiac Center, Children Hospital, and MCH Centre.  

Seven staff members including doctors and nurses were infected last week. They were performing duties in Medical Ward, Surgical Ward and Radiology, the list said.

Meanwhile, the city health authorities also sealed five more educational institutions in the city. Details said that a private school in sector G-8/1was closed after confirmation of two cases from there.

Other educational institutions include Islamabad Model College for Girls  Rawal Town, a private school in F-8/4, a private school of G-7/2, and a private school at Sihala Road as two cases at each institute were confirmed.

So far, the city health authority has sealed 54 educational intuitions after confirmation of COVID-19 cases.

Federal Minister for Education Shaqat Mahmood contradicted the rumours of closure of educational institutions in the country and said that no such decision has been taken.

In his social media message, the minister said that “Rumours again afloat regarding schools closures. It is again clarified that educational institutions are not being closed.”

He said “We will continue to monitor the situation as health of the students, teachers and staff is very important but at the moment no such decision has been made,” he said.

Earlier, the higher educational institutes including International Islamic University Islamabad and Quaid-i-Azam University were also closed after confirmation of COVID-19 cases there. International Islamic University Islamabad had been closed till November 05 while Quaid-i-Azam University decided to start majority of classes online after the cases had emerged there.