PESHAWAR: Three of the biggest government hospitals in Peshawar have witnessed a rise in coronavirus patients during the third coronavirus wave, forcing the medical institutions to ramp up their supply of oxygen.

As of Friday, 700 patients were receiving oxygen at the three major hospitals — Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital, and Hayatabad Medical Complex.

Earlier oxygen producers have warned that Pakistan may face a shortage of life-supporting gas as the demand has grown due to the deadly third wave of COVID-19 in the country.

In a joint statement, they said that they have been producing oxygen at their maximum capacity and if coronavirus cases continue to rise, the country could face its shortage as being witnessed by India.

The oxygen producers said that most of the domestic production remains allocated to the health sector and that if all plants produce oxygen at full capacity, they can hardly meet the needs of the health sector.

They also demanded an uninterrupted supply of electricity to run their plants without any interruption.

Earlier, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar had said that the country had already utilising 90 percent of its total gas production and could face a shortage if the situation was not controlled.

Briefing the nation about the decisions taken by the National Coordination Committee, which met on Friday with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, he said that the government was aware of the critical situation and was taking steps to ensure supply.

“We are working to enhance capacity and will import oxygen if needed,” he added.

Hayatabad Medical complex is the largest healthcare facility in Peshawar and is currently providing oxygen to 160 COVID-19 patients. 

The medical complex had an average usage of 10,000 litres of oxygen daily for its coronavirus patients, but due to rising cases has been pished to increase its storage capacity to 23,000 litres. According to hospital officials, before the coronavirus outbreak, the oxygen storage capacity in the hospital was 5,000 litres — and the facility used 4,000 litres daily.

During the first wave of COVID-19, the capacity was increased to 13,000 litres in September 2020, and the hospital was using 6,000 litres of oxygen daily then.

Now the situation is markedly different, with stress on oxygen supplies, which also have to be provided to non-covid patients in other intensive care wards.

Meanwhile, Lady Reading Hospital has a storage capacity of 16,000 litres of oxygen, of which 14,000 litres are being used daily for coronavirus patients.

The hospital used 8,000 litres of oxygen daily during the first and second waves of the pandemic. Oxygen is being provided to 438 patients undergoing treatment at the medical facility.

Earlier, Islamabad’s biggest public sector hospital, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) reached its maximum capacity to handle coronavirus patients. In the wake of the growing number of patients, the hospital administration asked the authorities concerned to make alternate arrangements on the premises at the earliest.

Pakistan has reported 157 deaths due to COVID-19 making it the country’s highest death toll since the coronavirus pandemic began last year in Feb. Pakistan had recorded 153 deaths in June.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s national positivity ratio shot up to 11.27 per cent as it recorded 5,908 cases in the past 24 hours, said the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) in its daily statement.


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