Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was told on Monday that there was no shortage of medical equipment, even as several doctors and medical staff protested against the lack of gears to protect them against the coronavirus that has infected over 3,400 people in the country.
Khan chaired meeting of National Coordination Committee to tackle the pandemic and was briefed by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chairman Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal, according to an official statement. He was informed that 3,300 ventilators were provided to 136 hospitals of the government and protective kits were also being provided to doctors and nurses.
Khan was also briefed that 49,500 testing kits were already provided to provinces to conduct tests of the patients. “We don’t have any shortage of masks and testing kits and also working to provide more ventilators,” Afzal said. Medical staff across Pakistan have complained for weeks over the severe shortages of safety equipment in hospitals as they treat patients suffering from the coronavirus.
Police arrested doctors and medical staff in Balochistan’s capital on Monday for protesting over the lack of protective gears. According to President Young Doctors Association Dr Yasir Khan, more than 150 doctors and paramedics have been arrested. The doctors and medical staff wanted to protest outside the Chief Minister House when the police baton-charged them.
"This government wants us to work and does not provide us anything (PPE for protection against the virus)," he said. The protest came after more than a dozen doctors contracted the virus reportedly while discharging their duties. The Ministry of National Health Services reported on its website that 50 patients have died so due to the coronavirus.
According to the website, Punjab recorded 1,627 cases, Sindh 881, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 405, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) 211, Balochistan 202, Islamabad 82 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 16 cases. The ministry for the first time reported that a total of 35,875 tests have been conducted in Pakistan so far.
The number of cases were increasing fast in the largest province of Punjab, also the wealthiest region of the country, which should be worry for the government. Efforts were going to contain the disease and provide assistance to the poor people. Meanwhile, Supreme Court Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed criticised the government for lack of efforts to combat the virus by saying that “nothing is being done on ground".
He passed the remarks while hearing an appeal against Islamabad High Court's verdict about releasing the under-trial prisoners due to the coronavirus outbreak. “Everyone is talking about funds, no one is doing anything. The public has been left at the mercy of God,” he said.