Worldwide, as millions of people stay at home to minimise transmission of coronavirus, healthcare workers prepare to do the exact opposite. They will go to clinics and hospitals, putting themselves at high risk from COVID-19. The latest news story of at least 32 medical personnel in Multan testing positive for COVID-19 is only further evidence of the risks medical care professionals are taking to save our lives.

As the pandemic accelerates, access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers is a significant concern. Medical staff is prioritised in many countries; however, things are a bit different in Pakistan with limited supplies and reports of mismanagement in some areas, such as Multan. If things do not change, the whole infrastructure created for curbing the spread of COVID-19 and treating the patients can collapse. Doctors are constantly complaining that they do not get PPE. The government must address their concerns; it must also intervene to sort the reported issues between medical personnel and the administration of Nishtar Hospital.

As officials have mentioned in both public and private, an effective response to COVID 19 does not only include upgrading health resources but also pertains to the management of human resources, in this case healthcare staff. If not adequately protected, the frontline heroes are putting themselves and their families at risk for nothing, as they stand to become carriers instead of those charged with containing the infection.

It is essential to understand that healthcare workers cannot be urgently manufactured or run at 100% occupancy for long periods. Once they are out of commission, they cannot be replaced. Administrations must see workers not only as pawns to be deployed but also as human individuals. A more coordinated response among institutions will help save Multan from becoming the epicentre of coronavirus in Pakistan. Officials in Multan must look at some bigger and more populated cities – even those in Pakistan – as case studies that are handling containment much better.