LAHORE           -        The Young Doctors Association (YDA), Punjab, has claimed that as many as 115 medical personnel at Lahore General Hospital (LGH) and Punjab Institute of Neurosciences have been infected with the coronavirus. “As many as 93 doctors, 12 nurses and 10 paramedics at both these hospitals have been diagnosed with COVID-19,” said Dr Ammar Yousaf, President of LGH chapter of YDA Punjab, while holding a press conference here on Friday. As many as 18 doctors are infected in Medical Ward, 16 in Surgery Ward, four in Gynae Ward, 10 in Neurosurgery Ward, four in Paeds Ward, 16 in Orthapedic Ward and 25 in other wards. Dr Ammar said that several doctors are in self-quarantine at their homes, and as a result posed a threat to their families. Therefore, in the light of these fears, the YDA demands that a separate ward be set up for doctors at hospitals to save their families from the infection.

“If separate isolation rooms are not allocated to corona-affected doctors and the paramedical staff or international standard protective gear is not provided at any station, the young doctors will stop working immediately,” he warned. Out of 400 doctors tested in the past few days, he said at least 100 medical professionals had been confirmed as coronavirus positive. Dr Ammar said that the mass screening of doctors at LGH had been completed after exerting pressure on the administration, and demanded the Punjab government conduct mass screening of medical professionals at all hospitals across Punjab. He said that Tocilizumab drug was available for COVID19 patients in the hospital, adding that online portal for plasma therapy had been made operational under in-charge focal person Dr Arslan Butt. Dr Arslan Butt appealed to the recovered COVID19 patients to donate their plasmas, as their donations might save the lives of other patients. He urged the government not to open the outdoor wards in view of the growing number of coronavirus cases. “If SOPs are not implemented in OPDs, then we will stop working,” he warned. He conveyed to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid that the coronavirus patients were deprived of beds and other facilities. He accused the health minister of trying to impose ‘black law’ of MTI Act for the privatization of hospitals amid coronavirus emergency to save her (minister’s) portfolio. “If MTI Act is implemented, the YDA would be forced to go on strike, and the whole responsibility will be on the government,” he warned.

The doctors demanded the government conduct forensic audit of all procurements made by the hospitals, while alleging that at least Rs15,000 per bed was misappropriated at a 1000-bed Field Hospital at Expo Centre, Lahore.

“The first coronavirus case in Pakistan was confirmed on February 26, but no arrangements have been made for the proper treatment of these patients at hospitals up till now,” Arsalan Butt regretted.