160 Pak doctors contract coronavirus; protest against PPE shortage

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The number of Pakistani doctors infected with the coronavirus has reached 160 with three deaths even as the protest by the medics against the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) entered the ninth day on Saturday.

Dr Muhammad Javed Iqbal, who contracted the virus over a week ago, died in Peshwar. Earlier, one doctor each from Gilgit-Biltistan and Karachi lost their lives due to COVID-19.

According to the Pakistan Medical Association, some 250 medics including 160 doctors have been infected with the coronavirus so far.

The Grand Health Alliance of doctors and nurses’ hunger camp outside the Punjab health department entered the ninth day for paying no attention to the medics falling victim to the deadly virus due to the non-availability of adequate protective medical kits.

“We will continue holding the protest till the government meets our legitimate demands,” Grand Health Alliance chairman Dr Salman Haseeb told PTI.

Primarily, the alliance wants the government to take care of the doctors and other staff serving in the testing time of COVID-19 and provide them with a complete protective gear, he said, adding that the protest would continue throughout the month of Ramzan.

Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid alleged that the doctors and nurses under the banner of the Grand Health Alliance demand hefty financial incentives for the health practitioners irrespective of their duties.

“The doctors who died of coronavirus in the line of duty should be given the status of Shaheed (martyred) and their families given financial benefit,” Dr Haseeb said, adding that the alliance wants complete isolation of the infected doctors in either private hospitals or five-star hotels.

“We also demand that the health department complete the screening of all doctors who are discharging duties for seven days at hospitals as a preventive measure during the epidemic,” he added. On Saturday, the coronavirus cases crossed the 12,500 mark with 261 deaths in the country. PTI