Is Multan becoming Wuhan of Pakistan?

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MULTAN – With over 32 medical personnel, who tested positive for COVID-19, and another 90 with negative results, Multan is being dubbed as Wuhan of Pakistan.

The level of contagion among medical personnel of Multan has risen alarmingly as the test reports of 26 doctors, three nurses and as many other paramedics confirmed that they were infected by the coronavirus.

However, their 90 colleagues from Burn Unit, who included doctors, nurses and paramedics, narrowly escaped as they tested negative. The town was already in the news for the highest ratio of cases being reported to the hospitals while the spike in the contagion among healthcare givers further worsened the situation.

Keeping in view increase in suspected and confirmed cases, the government has decided to set up a 500-bed isolation centre in Nishtar Hospital Multan. Provincial Minister for Energy Dr Akhtar Malik told mediamen on Wednesday that the centre would offer all healthcare facilities to the isolated patients and the government would provide all out resources to the hospital for this project.

Earlier, country’s largest quarantine centre was also set up at Labour Welfare Complex in Industrial Estate of Multan, which housed over 1,200 pilgrims, who returned from Iran. The COVID-19 positive patients from Nishtar Hospital and the quarantine centre were shifted to Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital, but now they will be kept at the proposed isolation centre.

The doctors claim that reasons like absence of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and low testing capacity have exposed them to the threat of COVID-19 threat. “Our colleagues are forced to work in ICU, emergency and even isolation wards without PPE.

Nishtar administration claims that they have plenty of PPE, but nothing is given to anyone,” claimed an office-bearer of Young Doctors Association (YDA) while requesting anonymity.

The Vice-Chancellor of the Nishtar Medical University Prof Dr Mustafa Kamal Pasha, however, rejected the claims and accusations made by the YDA. “We have plenty of PPE and we’ve issued protection gear to all those who need it,” he added while talking to The Nation.

He said that the hospital had Rs 100 million funds for the purchase of necessary equipment, which were being procured on daily basis. “Daily lists are made and these equipment are issued,” he added.

Answering a question, he said that the doctors and paramedics of Nishtar Hospital did not get infected due to the negligence of anyone. “If a person comes with a burnt arm or renal failure, we can’t go for his COVID-19 test first.

We start his treatment instead of putting him on hold for two days to receive his COVID-19 test reports,” he further explained. He added that the doctors got infected due to some emergency cases in which no one knew that the patients were COVID-19 positive. The VC pointed out that the doctors also committed negligence in using PPE in time.

To a query, he said that there was a certain criterion for the issuance of PPEs. “We can’t issue 50 N95 masks on the call of someone. Our stores are full and we have plenty of equipment but we issue it to those who need,” he added.

The number of COVID-19 cases is rising in Pakistan with every passing day. The Government of Pakistan’s COVID-19 portal says that the country has as so far recorded 6,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases while 107 died and 1,446 recovered.

The government has extended lockdown for two more weeks but restrictions have been eased by giving permission to selected industries and businesses to resume work.