Karachi: The Sindh Government has decided to shut down one of Pakistan’s biggest makeshift isolation facilities in Karachi as such temporarily established health treatment centres are no more required due to a marked decrease in coronavirus cases.
The provincial government has decided to close Karachi Expo Centre’s field isolation centre that is located in middle of the city. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak the venue was used for hosting trade exhibitions and other events often involving foreign delegates.
The decision to this effect was reached as Sindh Chief Secretary Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah chaired a meeting of the committee, which oversee affairs of the provincial government’s coronavirus emergency fund. The fund was used to establish such emergency facilities in the province to treat the cases of coronavirus.
The committee also decided to close down the project of establishing a similar makeshift isolation facility in Karachi at another popular recreational venue of the city i.e. PAF Museum. This project was never launched or inaugurated.
The Karachi’s Expo Centre’s isolation facility has remained in operation for five months as Pakistan Army provided especial assistance to establish the 1,200-bed makeshift treatment centre. The federal government, corporate sector, charities, and non-governmental organizations constantly provided support to run the facility.
The Expo Centre facility was hailed as the cornerstone of the Pakistan’s nationwide efforts against the spread of the coronavirus. One of the main purposes of the facility was to house the passengers arriving in the country from abroad after they were diagnosed with the deadly viral disease.
Special counselling sessions were also held through video conferencing facility for psychological upkeep and fitness of the patients kept there.
It was inaugurated on April 02, 2020 by the volunteers who enlisted their services to Sindh government in its fight against the COVID-19. Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Karachi Corps Commander Lt General Humayun Aziz, and Sindh Heath Minister Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho were also present on the occasion.
Later in June, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah inaugurated a 140-bed High Dependency Unit at the Expo Centre’s facility in a situation when the province desperately needed such critical care facilities for the urgent recovery of the critically ill COVID-19 patients.
The facility was established in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization for such dedicated COVID-19 emergency treatment centres as patients there had the facility of video calling for getting in touch with their relatives.
The special facility, however, also came under criticism due to its location in the midst of the dense urban population as people were wary about the arrangements in place to dispose of the municipal and clinical waste generated by the centre.
The facility, for most of the time, remained used much below its available capacity owing to lesser number of COVID-19 patients in Karachi requiring such special isolation centres.
Sindh Governor at the time of inauguration, however, had said that the centre would remain functional till elimination of the coronavirus from the country.