63 medics, 26 nurses isolated after Nishtar doctor confirmed for Covid-19

Published April 12, 2020
Nishtar Hospital is the most-visited government sector teaching institute in South Punjab. — AP/File
Nishtar Hospital is the most-visited government sector teaching institute in South Punjab. — AP/File

LAHORE: As many as 63 doctors and 26 nurses of five wards at the Nishtar Hospital Multan were isolated on Saturday after they were exposed to the coronavirus.

It is the highest number of medics of any government sector hospital who were quarantined after their swab samples were sent for diagnosis.

One of the major reasons for the sorry state of affairs was said to be shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the medical staff.

The other reason was ‘mishandling’ of the confirmed patients and such incidents are going on ‘unnoticed’ in Punjab.

The Nishtar Hospital is the most-visited government sector teaching institute in South Punjab which is playing a leading role in combating the virus followed by Shaikh Zayed Hospital Rahim Yar Khan.

Swabs sent for diagnosis

Some medics blamed the management of the Nishtar Medical University (NMU) for not providing kits to the staff in the name of shortage of equipment.

They said NMU vice chancellor Prof Dr Mustafa Kamal Pasha after a meeting on Saturday asked all the affected medics for home isolation instead of keeping them at the institute.

They said these doctors must be quarantined at hospital till their diagnosis reports.

Talking to Dawn, the VC said: “The institute has PPEs stocks that can be used for three days or so. We have also received funds worth Rs100 million from the Punjab government to procure PPEs and other equipment.”

Mr Pasha said the institute decided to quarantine all the 63 medics on the hospital’s premises instead of sending them to their homes. “For this purpose we have already spared two wards and are also allocating two more units.”

On the other hand, the situation got alarming when one of the house officers at the medical unit-II of ward 11 was tested positive for the virus.

With symptoms of flue and dry cough, he had been attending patients and working with senior medics of his unit besides other colleagues, an official source said.

The house officer was tested positive for Covid-19 late on Friday when the lab issued his report, he said.

As his report received, an emergency was declared and 25 of his colleagues including female doctors were identified for being in close contact with him during duty.

Of them nine were postgraduate trainees while others were the house officers, the official said.

He added that almost the same situation was reported in the emergency ward, nephrology unit, and medical unit-II of ward 10 and the intensive care unit where a majority of the medics and other employees were exposed to the virus due to presence of a confirmed patient.

He said a 60-year-old patient visited the Multan Institute of Kidney Disease a week ago from where he was referred to the Nishtar Hospital.

The Corona Counter referred him to the emergency unit [Nishtar] where the doctors provided him with initial treatment and then referred him to the medical unit-II of ward 10 on the recommendations of the pulmonologists.

After treatment by the doctors, he was referred to the nephrology unit because he required immediately dialysis.

He remained under treatment at the nephrology ward for two days and as his condition got critical he was shifted to the ICU.

The patient was provided treatment for four days or so in the ICU. As his condition deteriorated, the duty doctors tried to save his life through Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Till that time all the medics including other employees who remained in his contact were unaware that either the patient was confirmed case of Covid-19 or not.

The patient, however, died late on Friday and his report also confirmed him the victim of Covid-19 the same night.

Meanwhile, the third incident also exposed many other people when a confirmed patient of Covid-19 returned from abroad was not ‘properly handled.’

He had arrived from London in the mid of March and visited the Nishtar Hospital where he told at the Corona Counter his history and symptoms he was feeling.

The staff [at the counter] sent him back suggesting him to isolate himself at home instead of admitting him for investigation.

He spent a routine life, met family and friends and again visited the Shaikh Zayed Hospital Rahim Yar Khan when he complained of severity of symptoms.

His close relative doctor who was working as assistant professor at the Shaikh Zayed Hospital isolated him immediately and sent his swab samples for diagnosis.

The reports later confirmed him positive for the virus, the official said. Later, seven members of his family including his son, his sister-in-law, his brother’s two sons, a relative who was professor at a government university were tested positive for Covid-19.

A maid of the London-returned citizen was also tested positive for the coronavirus and the health teams quarantined some 11 contacts of the maid at the hospital in Multan to further investigate them for confirmation of the virus.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2020



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