LAHORE - Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid said that here on Thursday that the number of confirmed patients in Punjab is 13,561 with 223 deaths, whereas 4636 patients have recovered and 37 are critically ill. In the last one day 5365 tests have been conducted taking the total number of tests to 147,567 so far in public and private labs in Punjab.

Addressing a Press conference at 90 Sahra-i-Quaid-e-Azam, the Minister said that this was third day of softening of restrictions in lockdown.

Special Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department Ajmal Bhatti, Special Secretary Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Nadir Chatha, CEO Mayo Hospital and Expo Center Corona Hospital Professor Asad Aslam and MS Mayo Hospital Tahir Khalil were present on the occasion.

The Minister said that there was need to remind the people that coronavirus threat has not decreased and the public must follow the SOPs given by the government.

“We are appealing to the people to observe social distancing and follow precautionary measures. People are requested not to leave their homes unnecessarily and especially look after the elders. The government alone cannot control the spread of the disease unless the people follow the precautionary measures. If, God forbid, the pandemic spreads widely among the population. the number of critically ill patients will also increase creating insurmountable problems for the government.”

The Minister also said that best possible treatment is provided to patients in dedicated facilities. “We are greatly concerned about the situation and the government has increased the testing capacity manifold”, she said.

The Minister said, “A demand for forensic audit of the Expo Center Field Hospital was raised by some sections in media including an anchor so I have decided to put in front of everyone the details of the resources and the amount spent. A document was shown carrying estimated figures. The Expo Center Hospital was set up in a very short span of time, and its estimates are always kept higher than the actual cost. Whenever, the plan for a project is made, all amounts are included in estimates including the operational costs. Initially, three government hospitals were reserved for corona patients, Mayo Hospital, PKLI and Expo Center.

The Health Department has given away a cheque amounting to only Rs. 7 Crore to the District Administration and its details, as shared by the Deputy Commissioner’s office are presented here. According to their documents, the District Administration has spent only Rs. one crore on the partition whereas the estimated cost was kept at Rs. 4.5 crore. The procurement of essentials was made at Rs. 1 crore, far below the estimates.

“Even the support from the philanthropists has been documented for transparency. All government projects including those under emergency measures are always scrutinized by third party auditors and an audit led by Resident Engineer NESPAK Brig Saeed Malik has already been conducted. I request all not to spread rumors and stop misleading public,” she said.

Dr. Yasmin Rashid further said, “It is deplorable that the District Administration worked day and night to set up this field hospital in a very short time of nine days and people are trying to discourage team including doctors and the staff by such false news. The total payment made so far is only Rs. 2 crore. A total of 490 patients were admitted in the hospital out of whom 275 have recovered and returned to their homes.

She further said, “So far Rs. 1.5 Billion have been issued to the hospitals of the Specialised healthcare and Medical Education and Rs, 6.5 Billion to the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department. Mayo Hospital has been paid Rs. 10 Crore which also shares costs for the Expo Center Hospital.

Besides, PKLI, Nishter Hospital Multan and Rawalpindi Institute of Urology have been given Rs. 10 crore each.

About Rs 96 crores have been distributed to all hospitals for procurement of medicines and protective equipment, she added,

“An amount of Rs 88 crores have been given away to tertiary care hospitals for their routine expenditure. Some three weeks ago, the Mayo Hospital staff was serving in the Expo Center Hospital.

Now we have hired new staff which include 268 personnel in Lahore, 69 in Rawalpindi, 21 in Gujrat, 8 in Sargodha and 10 in Multan as around 1000 people were interviewed. This staff will now be paid. I will also like to mention that the Expo Center Hospital is looked after by senior doctors and not sweepers and support staff. All papers and documents are available for anyone who wants detailed information about the expense. This is public information and all expenses are routinely documented on web as well. Patients with mild symptoms are kept at the Expo Center and those requiring serious care are then shifted to Mayo Hospital or PKLI. The Shaukat Khanam Memorial Hospital has also offered us ventilators,” she stated.

She said that the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department has spent Rs 81 crore so far which includes expense on setting up of BSL 3 Labs, PPE, PCR Kits, Trainings, Health Education and Awareness and procurement of other items. Overall, we have spent Rs. 1.7 Billion in both the departments and the details would be submitted to the Punjab Assembly as well very soon.

The Minister said that the Home Isolation Policy has been formulated and the government will allow home quarantine after assessment of the isolation place.

Responding to the queries of journalists, the Minister that the government believes in transparency and in spending every penny of public money on the public welfare.

Any irregularity found will be thoroughly investigated if we receive a complaint, she said.

Later, CEO Mayo Hospital Professor Asad Aslam Khan said that the reason of protest of patients recently at Expo Center Hospital was not the lack of facilities, but the demand of many mild/asymptomatic patients to allow them to go their districts which have been allowed now after meeting the necessary procedures.