Tuesday Dec 01, 2020
Almost 100 healthcare workers have died from COVID-19 in Pakistan to date, as concerns once again grow on lack of personal protective equipment for those on the frontlines of the pandemic's second wave in the country.
The tally by the National Command Operation Center (NCOC) includes doctors, nurses and medics who put their lives at risk to care for others since the first case of the deadly virus was reported in Pakistan in late February.
Of the 100 who died during the pandemic, 71 were doctors, 26 paramedics, two nurses and one a medical student, according to the official figures.
At least 10,314 healthcare professionals have been infected, majority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a figure of 2,638, followed by 2,463 in Sindh and 2,534 in Punjab.
The NCOC said 51 infections were reported in the country among healthcare providers in the last 24 hours alone.
As COVID-19 infections soar after a slump in August and September, doctors say they are again dealing with a shortage of personal protective equipment needed to keep them from getting sick.
At the public-run Mayo Hospital in Lahore alone there are 4,366 water resistant gowns available at the moment. But the hospital administration says it needs 9,000 gowns at least for the next two months, as per data seen by Geo.tv.
Similarly, it has 981 N95 face masks when it needs 12,000 and 87,300 surgical masks when it needs 200,000.
A doctor at the hospital who asked not to be named told Geo.tv that the hospitals will be able to purchase the protective equipment for the next six months, only when funds are released by the provincial government.
“At the moment, we don’t have any protective equipment whatsoever,” said a senior doctor at Jinnah hospital in Lahore, who chose to remain anonymous.
“There is no policy for doctors right now about what they should do after they test positive. When should they return to work? Doctors are even getting themselves tested on their own,” the doctor said.
At Jinnah hospital, 22 healthcare workers from the radiology department were tested on November 19. Of them, 14 tested positive for COVID-19.
While the hospital has no dedicated COVID-19 ward, it has been treating coronavirus patients in its intensive-care unit.