Pakistan coronvirus
People are waiting to Quetta to receive ration as businesses close due to partial lockdown in Balochistan. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Pakistan Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed has criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government for not tackling the novel coronavirus crisis properly and said “nothing is being done on ground.”

The top judge on Monday expressed displeasure over federal government’s measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic while hearing an appeal against Islamabad High Court’s verdict regarding the release of under-trial prisoners due to coronavirus outbreak in the country.

“The government is just calling in meetings whereas no work is being done on the ground,” Chief Justice Ahmed remarked during the proceeding.

“Hospitals have been closed when we need them. Up till now, 10 hospitals with 1,000 beds each should have been made operational,” he said.

Gulzar Ahmed, Chief Justice of Pakistan

48 COVID-19 deaths

The nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients in Pakistan has risen to 3,277 with 1,493 cases in Punjab, 881 in Sindh, 405 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 191 in Balochistan, 210 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 82 in Islamabad, and 15 Pakistan Administered Kashmir. At least 48 patient had died while 257 have recovered until Monday.

Talk about funds only

“Everyone is talking about funds, no one is doing anything. The public has been left at the mercy of God,” he remarked. The chief justice also criticised government’s efforts to encourage people to stay indoors in order to curb the spread of the disease, Dawn news reported.

The Chief Justice said there is no hospital in Islamabad where he could go for normal treatment as all Out Patient Departments (OPD) had been closed.

“What kind of medical emergency is this in the country,” the chief justice said, adding that all hospitals and clinics should remain open.

Doctors arrested in Quetta

Meanwhile, while Pakistan grapples to combat coronavirus outbreak with increasing number of cases and deaths, police have arrested doctors and paramedics who were protesting in Quetta for lack of personal protective equipment (PPEs) including masks and gloves for them.

According to Young Doctors Association (YDA) president Dr Yasir Achakzai, YDA and paramedical staff in Balochistan staged a protest against the unavailability of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) in their fight against Covid-19.

They were later baton-charged by security forces and dozens of them were arrested near Red Zone, he alleged.

“Yes, the police arrested dozens of protesting doctors today,” Razzaq Cheema, Quetta deputy inspector general police, confirmed. The president of YDA also announced a boycott of young doctors’ services from government hospitals. “We suspend all our services following high-handedness of police,” Dr Yasir Khan said.

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said on Sunday that the government was apprehensive that the coronavirus will test Pakistan’s health system in the coming weeks.

Test of health system

Umar briefed journalist in Islamabad about the coronavirus situation in Pakistan at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC). The e minister expressed the government’s concerns that the coming weeks can be difficult for the country’s health system. “The rate at which the infection is spreading, we are seeing that the limits of our health system will be tested in coming days,” he said.

Umar said that the bans that the lockdown measures were not only hurting the poor but the affluent as well, reported Geo TV.

The minister said that he could not predict whether the partial lockdown in place will increase or decrease after April 14. “Today, I cannot tell you whether the lockdown will increase or not from April 15,” he said. “Those decisions will be taken this week.”

Punjab lockdown extended

The Punjab government has extended the partial lockdown in the province till April 14, according to Radio Pakistan.

According to a notification issued, the provincial government has asked citizens to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Chinese doctors' advice

Meanwhile, the Chinese doctors visiting Lahore urged the provincial government of Punjab to extend the current lockdown for another 28 days to save it from the havoc that COVID-19 can cause.

Dr Maming Hoi, who headed the Chinese delegation, said that it is a myth that the coronavirus would fade away with the advent of summer, and added that “the possibility of spread of the disease in hot weather cannot be ruled out and ignored”.

The doctors warned the provincial authorities that the lethal infection may cause havoc and therefore, restrictions put in place as per government orders should only be lifted while taking the prevailing conditions into account.