ISLAMABAD             -         The federal capital hospitals have started receiving the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients with ‘moderate to severe’ clinical situation since the relaxation in the lockdown, The Nation learnt on Thursday.

Earlier, majority of patients being received in hospitals were with mild to moderate clinical condition.

As per the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) dashboard, 355 more people were confirmed with COVID-19 with four deaths taking the city’s toll of death tally to 38. This was the highest number of cases recorded in a day, so far.

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Infectious Disease Department (IDD) head Assistant Prof. (AP) Dr. NaseemAkhtar talking to The Nation said that “the situation is different now.” She said that earlier the COVID-19 patients received at PIMS were having the health issues like fever, body ache, unstable breathing and cough and were being advised for home isolation by the doctors.

However, now the patients being received from the city and different regions including cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) are being reported with severe oxygen saturation problem.  Dr. Naseem said that the oxygen saturation level of now-a-days COVID-19 patients is not at 60, 50, 40 and sometimes even 30 on the measuring meters and they are put on oxygen and if required on ventilator.

“Sometimes the patient received has severe respiratory problem and dies soon after reaching the hospital before putting on oxygen or ventilator,” she said. Dr. Naseem also said that most of the patients being infected with this situation are above the age of 50 years, have multiple other ailments as well and contracted the virus from young family members exposed to the virus in public places.

She said that sharp increase in the COVID-19 patients has been noticed as now,on an average, 30 patients out of 100 are being tested positive.

“While a number of patients being brought to hospital are in critical condition,” she added. Dr. Naseem said that around 54 patients died so far at PIMS and 12 are still on ventilator.

“It has nearly become impossible to save a life of any patient received with low oxygen saturation due to their clinically ill situation,” she said.

As per the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) daily situation report, the city has 21 hospitals with COVID-19 management facilities with 474 allocated beds. The total beds with oxygen facilities in the city are 262 while the number of ventilators is 92. The data said that 51 COVID-19 patients are admitted in the hospitals and 24 of them are clinically stable. It also said that 19 patients are on oxygen while eight are on ventilators.

The data said that 2937 patients are isolated at their homes while 518 have been discharged after recovering from the hospital. Molecular Virologist and Vice Chancellor (VC) National Skills University (NSU) Prof. Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar viewed that there could be two possible reasons behind aggressiveness of the disease.

He said either the virus is in mutation and changing its genetics like it was reported in other countries including China, or the virus started unfolding in the people isolated at homes now.

“It is possible that the virus gets severe in the people who were earlier isolated at homes and now being shifted to hospitals,” he said.

Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar also said that wearing surgical masks must be made mandatory for everyone either he contracted the COVID-19 or not.

Vice Chancellor (VC) University of Health Sciences (UHS) Prof. Dr. JavedAkram said that it is correct that the patients being received in hospitals are now of moderate to critical clinical situation. He said that this is because the pandemic has prolonged and it will continue. “It happens in every epidemic, pandemic that the health condition of the infected patients goes critical with the long existence of the virus,” he said.

Dr. JavedAkram stressed on the social distancing and following the guidelines of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to stay safe from the spread of the virus.