Pakistan coronavirus lahore
Pakistan volunteers and a police officer stand guard outside the area which authorities sealed after a group of people tested positive for the new coronavirus, Friday, April 10, 2020 in Lahore. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: After Pakistan prime minister’s aide on health Dr Zafar Mirza’s statement suggesting restriction on provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all medics and paramedics — doctors, nurses and support staff — working in isolation wards, there is a surge in number of doctors and paramedics infected with coronavirus across the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his televised address recently mentioned them as heroes of the nation but the recent statistics coming from different parts of the country suggest they themselves are under threat.

A doctor has been diagnosed with coronavirus in Federal Government Services Hospital (Polyclinic) in Islamabad and is currently quarantined for a period of 14 days at the same hospital.

Sindh: The worst case

According to the health department data, out of 193 cases of local transmission seven deaths have been reported so far while the official count for health care staff so far diagnosed with coronavirus infection in Karachi is 34, including 13 doctors at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutton Trauma Centre Accident and Emergency Trauma Centre.

KP: 9 doctors, seven nurses diagnosed with Covid-19

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), too, more than a dozen health professionals, including nine doctors and seven nurses, are reported to be affected with coronavirus.

The president of the Provincial Doctors Association of KP, Dr Fazal Manan, told Gulf News Tuesday that coronavirus had infected nine doctors and seven nurses in the province.

Giving details, he said five doctors and four senior professors were separately quarantined, while eight were performing their duties at public hospitals and one at a private facility.

Punjab’s new epicentre of coronavirus

In the biggest province of the country, in population as well as number of coronavirus cases, Multan’s Nishtar hospital has emerged as new epicentre of the virus in the southern province.

In the hospital, more than 27 doctors and paramedics have been confirmed as having contracted the virus.

In the same hospital, the total number of medics exposed to the coronavirus was higher, alleging that many test reports had not been made public.

The Vice-Chancellor of Nishtar Medical University, Dr Mustafa Kamal Pasha, at a press conference said in view of the increasing number of coronavirus patients in south Punjab, the provincial government had decided to convert the Pak-Italian Modern Burn and Plastic Surgery Centre of the Nishtar Medial University into a coronavirus hospital.

Doctors’ representative body concerned 

Meanwhile, doctors’ representative body Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has accused govt of showing a slow response to the doctors’ demand of provision of PPE at the earliest.

The PMA’s representative, Prof Dr Shahid Malik, said a senior doctor Abdul Qadir Soomro lost his life in Karachi while looking after the patients of coronavirus. Earlier, a young doctor in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) Dr Usama Riaz died last month while taking care of the patients infected with virus.

Still the danger is not over and lives of several doctors are under threat due to unavailability and low quality PPE, he said. If doctors and support staff are not provided with safety equipment, protective dress and masks etc, it will amount to disarming the government’s front-line soldiers and could result in countrywide boycott of work.