The surge in the number of cases across Sindh marked the highest number in the past 61 days, since testing began on February 26.
“This is the highest figure ever reported during the 61 days of COVID-19 emergency,” said CM Shah. “This shows the situation is going from bad to worse and we’ll have to take some extraordinary measures.”
Karachi, he said, was Sindh’s worst-affected division, with 301 new cases.
He said that tests of the province’s 41,216 tests so far, a record 3,028 had been conducted in the last 24 hours. Of these, 383 patients were diagnosed positive for COVID-19, which translates to a positive testing rate of 12.7%.
Of the new cases, those in Karachi constituted 12% of the tests, he said, mentioning that in total, 3,077 of Sindh’s 4,615 cases were in the southern port city.
The chief minister said the South district had 895 cases, of which 80 were new ones. On the other hand, 66, 99, 20, 26, and 10 new cases were recorded in the East, Central, West, Korangi, and Malir districts, bringing their respective totals to 676, 594, 322, 318, and 272.
Three people had died due to the coronavirus infection in the last 24 hours, bumping up the death toll to 81 — or 1.8% of the total patients.
At present, 2,432 (66%) of the 3,662 patients under treatment were in self-isolation, 767 (21%) at designated isolation centers, and 463 (13%) in various hospitals. Of the total patients, 29 are in critical condition and 12 on ventilators, so in all, 41 are critically ill.
“The doctors are struggling to save their lives,” Shah said, adding that 70 patients were discharged in the last 24 hours. “872 (18.9%) patients have recovered so far,” he noted.
“This is a serious situation,” he added, noting that the provincial government would have to establish more field hospitals and isolation centres.
In response to the coronavirus daily situation report, the CM called a meeting of the Sindh health department, said a provincial government statement .
The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, and the deputy commissioners.
CM Shah, during the discussion, said that the number of COVID-19 patients was witnessing sharp increases continuously and therefore, the government would have to enhance the bed capacity in various isolation centres by bolstering exiting field offices and establishing new facilities.
Shah directed Commissioner Shallwani to prepare a plan to enhance the capacity at the Expo Centre Field hospital from 1,200 to 1,500 and advised setting up an isolation centre at the PAF Museum Convention Center, Dalmia Ground, and Darul Ehsas Manghopir, among other areas.
He assigned to Planning & Development Department Chairperson Mohammad Waseem the task of exploring other empty buildings and grounds where isolation centres and field hospitals could be established. The target to set up facilities with 10,000 beds in total should be achieved, he said.
The chief secretary was advised to keep reviewing requirements for equipment, as well as doctors and paramedical staff, for the proposed facilities.
In a meeting of divisions and districts other than Karachi, CM Shah reviewed sampling methods and availability of testing kits, directing the officials to start extensive testing. He said 17 cases had been detected in Sukkur, seven in Hyderabad, two each in Khairpur, Thatta-Badin, Matiari, and Mirpurkhas, and one each in Dadu, Jamshro, Mirpurkhas, and Larkana.
He directed Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho to send special teams comprising lab experts to visit each and every district to guide officials stationed there on how to collect samples.
“Maybe, the collection of samples is not up to the mark,” he observed, directing all the deputy commissioners to improve their health facilities and encourage people to adopt social distancing in their respective areas.
Separately, Shah said two more flights, from Malaysia and Dubai, landed in Karachi, bringing some 505 stranded Pakistanis home.
All of them, he added, were kept in quarantine and that the provincial health department had started collecting their samples for tests, the results of which were expected to be released by Monday.