Doctors strike over coronavirus protection
April 07 2020 11:47 PM
Doctors strike over coronavirus protection
Doctors strike over coronavirus protection


Doctors went on strike at two hospitals in Quetta yesterday, a day after police used force to break up and detain medics protesting a lack of gear to protect them against the coronavirus.
Hundreds of doctors and paramedics protested on Monday against what they said was failure by the government to deliver promised supplies.
At least 30 doctors were detained by riot police for defying a ban on public gatherings during a lockdown introduced to fight the spread of the virus, which causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
“We are on strike for the protection of our doctors and paramedics,” one of the detained doctors, Hanif Luni, a leader of the association that arranged the protest, told Reuters on the phone from his police holding cell.
He said that doctors stayed on duty in the cardiac and gynaecology departments for emergencies, adding that the strike had spread to other parts of the province of Baluchistan, of which Quetta is the capital.
Pakistan has reported close to 4,000 coronavirus cases, including 54 deaths, of which over 200 cases are in under-developed Baluchistan.
An official with Baluchistan’s health department, Dr Wasim Baig, said that 14 doctors and 10 other medical workers had been infected by the virus in the province.
The provincial government says that doctors working with coronavirus patients had been provided with protective gear and that the protesting doctors were not dealing with infected patients.
The spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), which is steering the country-wide effort to combat the virus, said Baluchistan was given more safety kits than it needed for its frontline medical staff.
“Our first priority is to cater to frontline doctors and staff,” spokesman Saqib Mumtaz told Reuters, adding that those not on coronavirus duty had also been given what they needed and would get more.
“We’re not short of gear,” he said.
During a meeting to review the coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed the government’s resolve to provide protective gear to health professionals in their fight against the pandemic.
He said doctors and medical staff are acting as vanguard to stop the spread of the disease.
The meeting was apprised that 49,500 protective kits have already been dispatched to various provincial hospitals and that the delivery of more kits would be completed this week.
Khan also directed that the benefits of the already-announced comprehensive package for the construction sector should reach the lower strata of society, especially labourers.
The prime minister said that funds of the Public Sector Development Programme should be spent on projects associated with small and medium industries.

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