LAHORE - Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), while expressing grave concern over the rapid spread of coronavirus in medics, paramedics and the general public, on Tuesday demanded extension in the lockdown.

While addressing a press conference here at PMA House, the PMA office-bearers, including Dr Ashraf Nizami, Dr Izhar Chaudhry, Dr Shahid Malik, Dr Azimuddin Zahid, Dr Salman Kazmi, and Dr Wajid Ali informed that as many as 509 medical professionals had contracted the virus, including 263 doctors (52 percent), 171 paramedics (33 percent) and 75 nurses (15 percent), adding the numbers were continuously rising. “The medical professionals are the frontline soldiers in country’s fight against coronavirus,” they said, and warned that any harm to the frontline of defence against the pandemic would spell disaster in the country.

In Pakistan, presently, there are 21,501 confirmed COVID19 patients, and 486 had perished so far.

In Punjab, the cases are 8,103, while there are 7,882 cases in Sindh, 2,321 in Balochistan, 3,288 in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, 464 in Islamabad, 71 in Azad Kashmir and 372 in Gilgit Baltistan.

In the last 24 hours alone, a total of 1,315 new COVID19 patients and 24 deaths have been confirmed across the country.

In Pakistan, as many as 222,404 tests have been conducted so far, including 9,857 tests in the last 24 hours.

The PMA office-bearers, while presenting their suggestions, demanded the government provide WHO-standard personal protective equipment (PPEs), including N-95 marks and other supplies, to all medical professionals. They also demanded the government increase the capacity and accelerate the process of testing as per WHO-recommendations.

They urged the government to implement the policy of home isolation for coronavirus patients in Punjab as Speaker National Assembly, who got infected by the virus, had isolated himself in home quarantine.

They suggested that, instead of establishing new Corona Wards in existing hospitals, the government must establish hospitals dedicated for COVID19 patients only as it was rendering healthcare providers, patients, attendants and other visitors in hospitals vulnerable.

Besides, they said, the treatment of remaining patients in hospitals has come to a halt due to the scare of coronavirus.

For this purpose, they proposed to bring attached hospitals of private medical colleges in use to accommodate the COVID19 patients.

They demanded to establish 1000-bed Infectious Disease Hospitals in all mega cities and remove the temporary field hospitals in the country.

They also urged Governor State Bank of Pakistan to take notice of long queues outside banks and make alternate arrangements for consumers to ensure social distancing. “The opening of various bank branches may be divided in day and evening shifts,” they proposed.

They urged the City Traffic Police Officer to ensure online submission of fines or easy paisa mobile service. They also urged all Deputy Commissioners to remove temporary hand washing set ups and establish permanent facilities by installing wash basins.

They also urged traders’ community to observe shutter down policy and do business online. They also demanded to constitute a committee comprising forensic medicine experts to issue SOPs regarding burial of deceased COVID19 victims.