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Covid: Fears of 'impending doom' in Pakistan

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  • Covid: Fears of 'impending doom' in Pakistan


    Covid: Fears of 'impending doom' in Pakistan
    By Abid Hussain
    BBC Urdu, Islamabad
    Published 11 hours ago

    Mahwish Bhattiimage copyrightCourtesy Mahwish Bhatti
    image captionMahwish Bhatti is one of Pakistan's lucky few - she has been vaccinated

    For Mahwish Bhatti, choosing a private laboratory to be vaccinated against the coronavirus was a last resort.

    "I was desperate. I panicked," the 35-year-old from Lahore, Pakistan, told the BBC over the phone. "My mother was still waiting for her second dose of the vaccine, so I thought my turn would never come. I thought to myself, I will just buy whatever vaccine is available."

    Bhatti, who lost her job recently, had to pay more than 12,000 rupees ($78; ?56) to a private lab from her personal savings to get the Russian-made Sputnik V jab. She laughingly adds: "I did get one jab of vaccines, but also one jab to my wallet."

    But the decision may yet turn out to be one of the best she has ever made. Bhatti is now among the less than 2% of the country to receive a dose so far - able to skip the long line by paying a price out of reach to many Pakistanis.

    And now cases are on the rise, hitting record highs this week. The funeral pyres burning just across the border in India are a stark reminder of just how quickly matters can escalate when it comes to Covid.

    Already Pakistan has seen active cases go from as low as 16,000 in the first week of March, to more than 140,000 new cases in April alone, as well as over 3,000 deaths - making it the worst month since the pandemic began.
    pakistan covid overview

    Official data reveals that bed capacity in the intensive care units (ICUs) of Lahore's major public and private hospitals reached more than 93% on 28 April, while some of the major cities in the largest and worst-hit province, Punjab, are seeing over 80% utilisation of ventilators and beds with oxygen.

    Should the number of infections continue to grow, Pakistan may not just be facing a shortage of beds. Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar pointed out the country was already using 90% of its oxygen supply, with more than 80% already going towards healthcare needs.

    Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned Pakistan - with less than one doctor per 963 people - could be headed for disaster.
    How did Pakistan get here?

    One of the key drivers which led Pakistan to this stage was the arrival of the UK variant, as confirmed by Umar during second week of March. He later declared it to be more dangerous than the original strain.

    But the variant has collided with something else: apathy...