LARKANA: A team of doctors tasked to collect samples of patients suspected of having coronavirus has refused to work on the pretext of having been provided with incomplete personal protective equipment (PPE).

A member of the team, ENT consultant Dr Abdul Rasheed Shaikh confirmed to Dawn on Tuesday saying that without proper kits and gear, it would be risky for him or any other health professional to take samples.

The team was scheduled to take samples of the family of a coronavirus patient from the Ghalib Nagar locality here. The patient was presently quarantined at Dow Medical University, said district health officer (DHO) Dr Athar Shah on Tuesday. He said 27 members of the family had been quarantined in the house and were to be mandatorily tested.

He said the size of the gown was small therefore “we have dropped the idea of taking samples today [Tuesday]”, the DHO said.

However, he said the samples of nine positive Covid-19 cases would be taken the second time on Wednesday on the completion of their mandatory period of 14 days. They were kept in isolation at quarantine centre of the Arija campus of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University on Airport Road, he said.

The test results of the 17 family members of another Covid-19 patient were expected on Wednesday, he said. He said that so far 13 positive cases had been diagnosed in Larkana, including two belonging to Tableeghi Jamaat.

Dr Rasheed said the matter was conveyed to the chairman of the committee concerned, SMBBMU registrar Prof Dr Hakim Abro, and head of the ENT department.

He claimed that no proper PPE were provided to them while the size of the gowns was not only small, but their quality was also substandard. The goggles were damaged and in short number and protective face shields, shoe covers and scissors were old and used, he said.

He also pointed out that the house where the team members had been asked to go was not sanitised. “We, under the conditions, will not go to the house for taking samples as it would [be] tantamount to wilfully exposing ourselves to the threat,” he said, adding that they should be better brought to the Bibi Aseefa Dental College’s quarantine unit.

When contacted, SMBBMU Vice Chan­cellor Prof Dr Aneela Atta-ur-Rehman told Dawn on Tuesday that she had been informed about the situation.

How doctors without proper PPE could put their life in danger while taking samples of the suspected patients of Covid-19?, she said.

She said that to take stock of the situation arising from the doctors’ refusal, a meeting would be convened on Wednesday.

Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Universities and Boards Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, MNA Khursheed Junejo, deputy commissioner, Chandka Medical College Hospital medical superintendent, DHO and others would attend the meeting, she said.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2020