Pakistan health authorities on alert over severe heatwave

Islamabad, May 12 (EFE).- Pakistan health authorities issued an alert Thursday as a severe heatwave gripped several parts of the country and which is expected to last a week with temperatures going up to 49 degrees Celsius, officials said.

The Meteorological Department in the southern province of Sindh said the prevailing severe heatwave was expected to last until May 16.

“Daytime maximum temperatures may rise to 47-49 degrees C” in Dadu, Shaheed Benazirabad and other cities, it said, while the provincial capital of Karachi could witness mercury rising up to 38-40 degrees Celsius around May 13-14.

The provincial government has announced a healthcare emergency during this period, during which medics and paramedics will not be permitted to go on leave in order to attend to possible cases of heatstroke and other related emergencies.

“The government of Sindh has declared a 24/7 emergency and all the hospitals in the province are on alert to treat possible victims of heatstroke,” Sindh Health department spokesperson Mehar Khursheed told EFE.

She added that the health department has set up a control room, and outlined protocols to safeguard against the heat.

Khursheed said special wards have been set up at hospitals in the most-affected areas for managing heatstroke related cases.

The Meteorological department warned against the very hot and dry conditions affecting crops, vegetables and orchards, along with the likelihood of an increase in energy demand.

“Public is advised to avoid open sun exposure as much as possible especially during peak heat hours,” it said.

The region has been grappling with increasing temperatures this year, as Pakistan recorded its hottest temperatures for the month of March in 61 years.

“It was the hottest March in 61 years in which the mean maximum temperature in the whole country stood at 30.9 Celsius,” federal Meteorological department director told EFE, adding “it was five degrees warmer than the average of 25.9 Celsius.”

This is the first time in decades that Pakistan experienced what many described as a “spring-less year” and the country entered summer from winter without experiencing the spring season.

Last month, Minister for Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, warned of possible glacial flood incidents in the country’s north, underlining that a climatic shift in the region has led to increase in cases of glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF).

She warned that due to a rise in temperatures, glaciers in the Hindu Kush, Himalayas and Karakorum ranges were melting rapidly and a total of 3,044 glacial lakes have developed in the Gilgit-Baltistan region and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Of these, 33 glacial lakes have been assessed to be prone to hazardous GLOF,

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development has said flash floods can be triggered by abrupt temperature rise in the northern areas, like in the case of a bridge getting swept away earlier this year in Hassanabad, in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Pakistan is ranked among the top ten countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change. EFE


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