Islamabad: Over 50 doctors protesting the lack of safety equipment as they battle the coronavirus were arrested in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, police and physicians said.
The arrests occurred after more than 100 doctors and paramedics rallied near the city’s main hospital and then moved to protest in front of the chief minister’s residence, according to a report in India Today.
Police later used batons to disperse the group after they tried to enter the chief minister’s home, resulting in scuffles between the sides.
Medical staff across Pakistan have complained for weeks over the severe shortages of safety equipment in hospitals as they treat patients suffering from the novel coronavirus.
The government said it has provided 2,000 PPE kits, 50,000 N95 face masks, 32,000 surgical masks and 1,000 head coverings to provincial hospitals.
So far, at least 18 doctors have been infected with the coronavirus in Balochistan, according to government data. In all, the province has recorded 202 cases, with one death and 63 patients having recovered from the virus.
‘COVID-19 cases in Pak may top 50,000 by April end’
The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan might be over 50,000 by the end of April — 2,392 critical patients needing intensive care, 7,024 serious patients and 41,482 others who would have mild symptoms and just require isolation at their homes, the Supreme Court was informed.
In a report submitted to the apex court, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC), however, explained that these figures were mere projections based on assumptions made from trends of the outbreak in other countries, reports Dawn news.
The report said that the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus after 35 days of its outbreak in Pakistan remained low as compared to reported cases in European countries and Iran.
The NHSRC said that more than 1.4 million travelers were restricted for strict screening at major points of entry in the country — 1.1 million passengers at seven airports and more than 300,000 passengers at three land crossings, adding that 222 suspected patients were identified and quarantined, Dawn news reported.
The total number of cases in Pakistan now stands close to 4,000, while four fatalities over the past 24 hours raised the death toll to 54, according to the country’s health ministry.