The Sindh health department on Thursday banned Covid-19 screening of people who are less than 60 years of age, asymptomatic patients and those without comorbidities at public labs after 16 more people died from the coronavirus infection and its complications in the province in the last 24 hours.
“For timely processing Covid-19 tests at public sector laboratories, only Covid-19 suspects of more than 60 years age, having symptoms and suffering from comorbidities will undergo PCR testing at public sector laboratories till further orders,” said a notification issued by the health department said. It said persons who do not fall into the abovementioned category, including those having a contact history, should be advised to go for self-quarantine duly supervised by health staff for at least 14 days. Testing on educational faculty and students will be undertaken if they are symptomatic, it added.
“Once antigen tests are available at the health department, all symptomatic suspect cases and educational institution contacts will have tests done for antigen. The PCR will remain reserved for Category No. 1 patients. Travellers are advised to have their Covid-19 testing done at their own expenses from private labs.”
Commenting on the fresh directives, an official of the health department told The News that they were facing an extreme shortage of testing kits, while thousands of people, especially those willing to travel abroad, were visiting public sector laboratories to be screened for Covid-19 on a daily basis.
“Even the Aga Khan University lab and other private labs have refused to accept samples from health department as they too are under tremendous pressure and having a huge backlog of samples. Public labs are particularly under pressure as thousands are visiting daily to get themselves tested for Covid-19.”
But the official claimed that the directives were temporary and “for a few days” as the situation was likely to become normal in the coming days. People who came in contact with infected people but they did not have symptoms and comorbidities should quarantine themselves for 14 days at their residences, he said.
16 more perish
Over the past 24 hours, the coronavirus claimed 16 more lives in Sindh, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said in his daily situation report. “At least 16 more patients of Covid-19 died overnight, brining the death toll to 2,780, and 1,193 new cases emerged when 14,470 tests were conducted,” he said, adding that 529 patients were under treatment at various hospitals.
Shah noted that 14,470 samples were tested and 1,193 people tested positive, showing an 8.2 per cent current detection rate. So far 1,859,287 tests have been conducted, against which 159,752 peoples have tested positive. Of them, 90 per cent or 144,316 patients have recovered, including 260 overnight.
Currently, 12,656 patients were under treatment, including 12,119 in home isolation, eight at isolation centres and 529 at hospitals. The condition of 449 patients was stated to be critical, of them 47 have been shifted onto ventilators. Of the 1,193 new cases, 837 were reported from Karachi: 324 from District East, 218 from District South, 119 from District Korangi, 109 from District Central, 45 from District Malir and 22 from District West.
Hyderabad reported 143 cases, Sukkur 19, Matirai 18, Umerkot 14, Shaheed Benazirabad and Dadu 11 each, Thatta 10, Mirpurkhas and Ghotki eight each, Jamshoro seven, Jacobabad, Kambar and Naushehroferoze five each, Sanghar and Tando Allahyar three each, Badin and Shikarpur two each, and Kashmore and Khairpur one each. The chief minister urged the people of the province to follow the SOPs announced by his government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.