Pakistan Khyber coronavirus ration
This photo taken on April 9, 2020 shows local residents collecting dry rations at a distribution point in Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown against the COVID-19 coronavirus. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: Expressing concern over the government’s decision to allow congregational prayers during the month of Ramadan, doctors in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have urged the provincial government to withdraw its decision and announce a complete lockdown in the province.

Similar demands have come from Punjab and Sindh in last couple of days where prominent doctors appealed to the federal and the provincial governments to review their decision and impose a stricter lockdown in order to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

The Sindh government, heeding their call has already reinforced the lockdown disallowing a free-for-all religious practice during the Ramadan.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been severely hit by Covid-19 and registered more than 1,000 new cases in less than a week. On Friday, the province reported 1,541 cases, while the number of deaths at 83 is relatively high. The countrywide deaths stood at 237.

The province’s fatality rate, too, is highest at 5.4 per cent against the national rate of 2.14 per cent. Three new deaths were reported from the province during last 24 hours.

While drawing the provincial government’s attention to the number of Covid-19 related deaths, president of the Provincial Doctors Association, Dr Amir Taj Khan, said the situation was quite grave and required immediate and complete lockdown.

Staying home and enforcing social distancing was the only way to come out of this pandemic alive, healthy and uninfected, he said.

“Our health system would collapse and all the health workers would end up infected with the virus if the provincial government didn’t follow the guidelines,” he said. Once the health workers were affected the patients would obviously be left in the lurch, he added.

KP health workers — including doctors, nurses and paramedical staff — are working day and night to save the lives of the people, he said adding more than 50 health workers, including 20 doctors, have tested positive for Covid-19.

“Our hospitals don’t have separate facility to test the suspected patients of coronavirus and it would be most appropriate to have separate wards for suspected and active patients as well as quarantine centres away from the hospitals, to ensure their best management and to safeguard our people and health professionals from being infected,” Dr Amir said.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Dr Shahbaz Gill has claimed that the news conference by doctors in Karachi a day earlier where they called for a stricter lockdown was in fact a “politically motivated” move and the Sindh government was using a few medical professionals to push its narrative.

“Unfortunately when the Sindh government grew tired of doing politics over coronavirus, it pushed forward the province’s doctors for this purpose,” he tweeted.