Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday assured the doctors and paramedics, who were on the front line in the fight against the coronavirus and other severe health challenges, to provide protective material for their safety in vulnerable environment.

Addressing doctors and healthcare staff here at the Cantonment General Hospital (CGH), the prime minister said the protective gear would be provided on priority to those working at the intensive care units (ICUs) and dealing patients suffering from contagious diseases.

He said the decision was taken by the Command and Control Centre to ensure provision of shielding material to the front line medical staff for their own safety. Pakistan was fortunate to receive necessary medical equipment and expertise from China on priority as the world was facing the grave Covid-19 challenge, he added.

The prime minister, who inaugurated the up-gradation of the 500-bed hospital at the heart of Saddar Rawalpindi, with modern medical facilities, said the entire nation and the government stood with the medical workers for their readiness to handle the difficult health situations.

“We will fully support you – our doctors, nurses and paramedic staff, and the nation acknowledges your efforts,” he said.

Imran Khan said the government started taking preventive measures in the country since the first coronavirus case had surfaced in China in January, besides working on a mechanism to deal with the looming challenge.

He feared the spike of coronavirus cases in the country, saying continuous monitoring and data analysis was underway to determine the accurate rate of spread of the infection.

He regretted that healthcare had never been a priority during the last 70 years, saying his government would take every step to bring improvement to the neglected area.

The prime minister along with Railways Minister Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed, Member of National Assembly Amir Mehmood Kiani and the CGH officials took round of different sections of the hospital, including operation theatres, CT (computerized tomography) scan area and the Corona ICU.

He was briefed that the hospital had constituted a Corona Response Team with a specific plan in place to deal with the emergency.

A separate ICU and isolation ward had been established, besides setting up of seven dispensaries in slum areas to detect persons with symptoms of the infectious disease, he was further told.

The prime minister was also apprised that operation theatres had the facility of live telecast of surgeries, usually for the purpose of distant advisory opinion from physicians and as educational activity for medical students.

CGH Administrator Brigadier (retd) Imran ul Haq told APP that upgradation of the hospital would cater for the 1.5 million population of Rawalpindi to provide them treatment facilities for different diseases.

The Corona ICU had 30 beds, while a 50-bed separate Corona Ward comprising 25 beds each for male and female patients, had been made operational, he said.

He mentioned that the renovation of hospital also included a separate facility for children coming for routine vaccination to protect them from contracting diseases.

CGH Health Consultant Colonel (retd) Shoaib said a controlled environment with regulation of filtered air was maintained in ICUs, with beds equipped with air-curtain patient isolators.

CGH Chief Engineer Atiq ur Rehman apprised that the floors of wards had been lined with anti-microbial sheet to control potential sources of germs and bacteria.