MULTAN                 -              At least 20 medics including six doctors and 14 paramedics were sent to isolation ward on suspicion of contracting coronavirus from a patient who expired in the emergency ward on March 24.

This latest incident has sent a wave of shock among the medical community who were demanding the government to provide them basic safety equipment.

Hospital sources disclosed that the patient namely Amir was brought to the hospital emergency on March 24 and he expired on the same day. “The doctors suspected that he had coronavirus disease (COVID-19) symptoms on which his blood sample was sent for the test. He tested positive,” sources added.

The deceased had returned from Oman in February but his family concealed the fact from the doctors. The doctors came to know about his infection when someone shared the report of his test results on social media.

Hospital sources further said the results of blood tests of six doctors were received and all of them tested negative. “They will be discharged from the isolation ward but they need to repeat their tests after a few days. Sometimes the virus takes a little time to appear,” sources added.

The Young Doctors Association alleged that the hospital administration kept silent and apparently concealed the fact that the patient was COVID-19 infected.

Dr Faran Aslam, YDA President, claimed that the hospital administration did this because it failed to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the staff deployed at the emergency and isolation wards.  “We got the doctors and paramedics shifted to isolation ward and forced the hospital administration to send their blood samples for test,” he added. He warned that panic was gripping the doctors and paramedics and if any of them tested positive, no one would be ready to do duty at the hospital. He said that the doctors and other staff working at Emergency ward were directly exposed to COVID-19 threat but the hospital administration refused to give them N95 masks and other protective equipment. “Today we arranged some kits personally and distributed them among the staff at Emergency and other places,” he disclosed.

Meanwhile, in a video message, secretary of Young Nurses Association (YNA) Saima claimed that at least 20 nurses were put under isolation on suspicion of COVID-19 infection. She said that the government and health minister have completely failed. “They can build a 1000-bed hospital in four days but they cannot provide us PPEs despite lapse of one month. The doctors and nurses would not have been under the threat of infection, if they had been given PPEs by the government,” she maintained. She urged upon the philanthropists to step forward and arrange security kits for the medical staff at Nishtar Hospital as the hospital administration failed to arrange PPEs. Despite repeated attempts to seek version, the Medical Superintendent (MS) of the hospital Dr Shahid Bokhari could not be contacted. His phone was not received. Meanwhile, the health authorities confirmed on Saturday that at least 51 Iran-visitors, who were quarantined at Multan, had tested positive for COVID-19. 

Official sources disclosed that the blood samples of 1,333 persons, the visitors returning from Iran and the staff of busses, had been sent to Lahore for the examination and the results of 1031 were received so far. “As many as 980 have tested negative while the results of another 302 samples are awaited,” sources confirmed. The health authorities got repeated the tests of 25 persons and all of them turned out to be negative.

Sources disclosed that all the positive cases had been shifted to Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital Muzaffargarh. A total of 1420 confirmed patients are currently under treatment at different hospitals across the country. The Coronavirus Disease has so far killed 11 persons in Pakistan while 25 have recovered.