Paramedic pakistan Karachi
A paramedic wearing protective gear takes notes of a man's health history before taking a nose-swab sample to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Karachi, Pakistan June 27, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: Pakistan has lost 58 healthcare providers, including 42 doctors, to coronavirus while they were on a mission to save lives.

Medical professionals who lost their battle with COVID-19 also include 13 paramedics and support staff, two nurses and one medical student.

Sindh was the worst affected province where at least 22 healthcare providers had lost their lives, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where 11 healthcare providers succumbed to COVID. At least 10 deaths were reported from Punjab, seven from Balochistan, five from Islamabad and three from Gilgit-Baltistan.

Over 5,000 health workers infected in Pakistan

The virus has infected at least 5,367 health workers across Pakistan as of June 30, according to the official data by the health ministry. Of these, 2,798 have recovered while 2,569 are still under treatment or in self-isolation and 240 are hospitalized.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - The highest number of infections was reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where 1,809 healthcare providers, 856 doctors, 282 nurses and 671 paramedics, have contracted the disease.

Sindh - In Sindh province, nearly 1,397 healthcare providers, including 1034 doctors, 121 nurses and 242 paramedics have been affected. At least 22 healthcare providers have lost their lives in Sindh.

Punjab - Around 1,100 healthcare workers had so far been infected with the coronavirus in Punjab, including 625 doctors, 168 nurses and 307 paramedics and other support staff, reports claim.

ICT - In Islamabad, the virus infected around 451 healthcare providers, including 315 are doctors, 51 nurses and 85 are paramedics and other staff.

Balochistan - In Balochistan province, at least 422 health workers tested positive, of whom 345 are doctors, eight nurses and 69 paramedics.

Gilgit-Baltistan - The Gilgit-Baltistan region reported 105 cases of coronavirus among the healthcare workers, including 55 doctors.

Pakistan-administered Kashmir - At least 83 health workers have contracted the virus, 45 among them are doctors. However, no loss of life in the medical community was reported so far.

Amnesty urges Pakistan to protect healthcare workers

On July 1, Amnesty International in a letter to Pakistan’s Health Minister Dr Zafar Mirza urged to ensure protection of healthcare workers pertaining with the rise in coronavirus infections and attacks against them. “While everyone remains at risk of contracting COVID-19, health workers are particularly vulnerable as they are consistently and repeatedly exposed to the virus,” it said. The official record of at least 5,367 health workers being infected with COVID-19 and 58 dead “is a devastating tally.”

The international organization on human rights also mentioned several instances of violence against health workers across Pakistan in which doctors were attacked and hospitals vandalized by angry mobs. The letter urged the Government of Pakistan to take all reasonable measures to protect health workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Amnesty International urged Pakistan to:

- Investigate any attacks or acts of violence against health workers and bring perpetrators to account.

- Ensure that employers (both public or private) provide all health workers with adequate PPE to protect themselves

- Immediately put in place protocols and security to address threats and risks to health staff

- Set up systems to document violent incidents, discrimination and stigmatization faced by health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.