LAHORE - Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has said that the Punjab government is providing best possible treatment to the COVID-19 patients at public sector hospitals, and that the government is reviewing the situation every 24 hours. Speaking at a press conference here at the Chief Minister Secretariat on Saturday, the minister said that the data of number of patients, their treatment, tests, medicine procurement and available resources was being shared with the people on a daily basis which was appreciated by the Punjab Information Commission. Present at the press conference were Special Secretary Primary and Secondary Health Department Ajmal Bhatti, Additional Secretary Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Department Dr Asif Tufail, CEO Mayo Hospital Professor Asad Aslam Khan, Chairman Corona Experts Advisory Group Dr Mehmud Shaukat, Dean Children Hospital Dr. Masud Sadiq, Members CEAG Dr Sumayya Sadiq, Javed Hayat and other officials of the Department.

Dr Yasmin said that there were rumours and speculations doing rounds on media about the treatment of coronavirus patients and other facilities being provided to them. “In this situation, the facts are needed to be shared with the people,” she underscored.

As per directions from the Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, she said, all figures and statistics of patients, tests and medicine procurements were being regularly shared on the department’s website to ensure transparency.

“Through Rescue1122, the facility of transferring patients to nearest hospitals has been provided and its coordination is linked with the Central Control Room. As many as 303 ventilators are available for corona patients and currently 64 critically ill patients are on ventilators,” the minister said, and added, “If symptoms appear, people must contact the Rescue 1122 instead of isolating themselves at home.”

Dr Yasmin further said on directives from the Punjab chief minister, a Control Room had been set up at the Mayo Hospital where data of the patients at government and private hospitals was available.

“The Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department has introduced an App in its Corona Monitoring Unit where complete information about patients, beds and facilities will be available,” she told the media.

The minister further said, “I reemphasize that the government is spending public money on people in a transparent manner and all expenses are routinely updated on the official website. The CEAG, under its chairman, shares the findings and experiences of treatment of patients with the committee on a daily basis. All CEAG members may talk on corona publicly as well. A mass awareness campaign is being initiated in Punjab on the directions from the National Command and Control Center.”

She opined that the state of the complete lockdown could not be continued forever as even in the USA, people were standing in long queues for food. “Due to timely action taken by the government, the number of patients and the mortality rate in Punjab is much lower when compared with the rest of the world,” she claimed.

She added that during the lockdown, the government and the philanthropists had worked together to support the people in need. “The entire world is doing research on finding cure for the COVID-19. Dr. Mehmud Shaukat has developed protocols for the treatment which are being followed in the entire province,” she told the media.

Speaking about trials on medicines, the minister said, “Hydroxychloquine has not produced the results it was billed to produce. We have started the trial of medicine Tocilizumab and positive results have been witnessed so far with 10 patients recovering. The medicine costs Rs1,20,000 per day for a patient. We have procured this medicine in a sufficient quantity for the serious patients.”

Dr Yasmin said Plasma therapy was also initially recommended and our experts in Punjab are working with Dr Tahir Shamsi for further results of this therapy. “As many as 37 people are providing their plasma this week and these trials will be further researched this week,” she informed.

“The number of coronavirus patients in Punjab has exceeded 22,500 and by following the precautionary measures, around 30 to 40 % cases can be prevented,” she emphasised.

Responding to the queries of journalists, the minister said that during the lockdown, which was announced as a last option, the government developed its resources to combat the pandemic.

“So far an amount of Rs96 crores has been disbursed among the teaching hospitals of Punjab and overall Rs5 billion has been spent on the pandemic,” she said, and added, “More than 6,000 daily tests cost the government between Rs 2.5 to 3 crores.”

She said a meeting had been called to review the charges of private hospitals. “In the middle of corona emergency, the strike call given by YDA is inexplicable. Nobody will be allowed to disrupt the treatment of corona patients in Punjab,” she said categorically.

 

The MTI Act was enforced after consultations with the YDA and it will be piloted in some institutions before being scaled up to the entire province. “I salute all doctors treating corona patients as patients are recovering with their great efforts. In the middle of the pandemic, the department is also providing all routine services to the patients. The quarantine centers are providing necessary facilities to the patients.”

The chief minister is personally supervising the efforts to control corona and is monitoring the services and the expenses. “In cases of any irregularity, action will be taken immediately,” she resolved.

The minister also said that the Punjab Public Service Commission will start interviews for the hiring of doctors, nurses and paramedics very soon while observing the SOPs.

She also said that the government spent billions of rupees on polio vaccines and that all parents must get their children vaccinated.