pakistan covid swab testing
A health care worker takes a nasal swab sample from a woman at a COVID-19 testing facility at a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: More than 13,000 healthcare workers have been infected with the coronavirus across Pakistan since the pandemic hit the country in late February 2020.

The latest data issued by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Pakistan’s key organisation leading the fight against the pandemic, revealed that at least 13,053 health care workers had been infected with COVID-19. Nearly 60 per cent of those affected were doctors while 26 per cent were paramedics and other staff and 14 per cent of those infected were reported to be nurses.

At least 32 new cases have been reported in health care workers, increasing the total to 13,053, the NCOC said. Nearly 12,300 have recovered from the virus and there are 640 active cases. The centre said the highest number of coronavirus cases among health care workers was reported in the southern Sindh province, at 4,631, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 3,101 and Punjab at 2,896. Pakistan has lost a total of 113 healthcare workers to the deadly virus with the highest number of deaths, 35, reported in Sindh, followed by 31 deaths reported in KP.

Pakistan is currently battling the second wave of the coronavirus and has reported over 508,000 infections and 10,772 deaths since February 2020. At least 2,123 cases were reported on January 12 and 55 people lost their lives during the last 24 hours.

The Pakistan government has increased the funds allocated to secure coronavirus vaccine to $250 million. Health officials have confirmed that the country would initially purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China’s Sinopharm. Special Assistant to PM on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan, has said that Pakistan hopes to receive the first batch of the vaccine from Sinopharm in “early February.” He added that the government was looking at “multiple options” to secure other internationally approved vaccines.

Pakistan has announced to provide the vaccine free of cost to frontline health workers in the first phase by the first quarter of 2021. The elderly will be vaccinated in the second phase.