5 doctors, one policeman test positive for coronavirus in Karachi

Updated 29 Mar 2020

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POLICE officers try to organise a crowd of people in the Numaish area on Saturday outside the office of a charity organisation distributing rations.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
POLICE officers try to organise a crowd of people in the Numaish area on Saturday outside the office of a charity organisation distributing rations.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: As the number of confirmed coronavirus patients continues to grow with most becoming victims of local transmission, the personnel of law-enforcement agencies and health workers are becoming more exposed to the threat as in just two days a police officer and five doctors tested positive for the pandemic, officials and sources said on Saturday.

They said they were kept in isolation in quarantine in different hospitals for the next two weeks and condition of all of them was said to be stable.

“Four doctors of a major private hospital and one from some other private health facility came into contact with the virus while performing their duties,” said an official while citing details of total local transmission cases.

“The doctors, we all know, are the front-line force in fight against the coronavirus and [are] more vulnerable compared to other people. In total 189 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Karachi, 131 are patients of local transmission, which is an alarming sign,” the official added.

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has already expressed its concerns and pointed out another area which it believed demands immediate action from the government.

Around 131 of the total confirmed cases in Karachi are of local transmission

A large number of health workers and volunteers were not supplied with protective gear, which had not only put their lives in danger but also made them potential carriers of the virus.

“I have been receiving calls one after another from doctors and health workers who want PMA to play its role and talk to the government. I believe that the health workers are doing extraordinarily great service but they also need to be protected. I appeal to both the provincial and federal governments to provide these workers PPE [personal protective equipment] who are exposed to the virus due to their professional contribution,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad of the PMA.

Apart from the health workers, law enforcers are also facing the threat more than other segments of society. A police officer in Karachi has tested positive for the coronavirus recently.

“One case of coronavirus (Covid-19) was confirmed in an official of the Sindh police,” said a police spokesman. The patient, a 49-year-old inspector, “is serving in the investigation South. He was moved to the Indus Hospital a few days ago on complaints of fever and cough, where his samples were sent for lab tests and he was tested positive on Friday. He is under intensive care facility of the hospital.”

All contacts of the police officer, he said, including family members and colleagues were being monitored. He said that the officer was being taken care of at the hospital.

“Sindh Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar has issued directives to take all possible measures to screen his contacts and ensure all precautionary measures for the purpose,” the spokesman said. “Besides that South zone and the welfare branch of the Sindh police will take all steps for the welfare and care of the patient according to welfare and healthcare package of the Sindh police.”

A senior police official said that a large number of policemen were performing duties on roads to implement the lockdown restrictions imposed by the Sindh government.

“In these circumstances it’s almost impossible to maintain discipline of social distancing among the policemen with all precautionary measures,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2020