‘Stay at home, if not for yourselves, then for the medics on the frontlines,’ plead female doctors

Updated 24 Apr 2020

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Female doctors addressing the media at the Karachi Press Club. — DawnNewsTV
Female doctors addressing the media at the Karachi Press Club. — DawnNewsTV

A group of female doctors in Karachi warned people on Friday against coming out unnecessarily from their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the pressure on doctors would "decrease" if people listened and stayed home.

The female doctors — affiliated with different medical facilities in the city — were addressing the media at the Karachi Press Club. Dr Nusrat Shah, a gynaecologist working at the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi, said that they were receiving pregnant patients every day who were seriously ill.

"Coronavirus threatens both the mother and the child. The patients that we receive, we intubate them, we try to save them but we are unable to," she said while warning of the dangers coronavirus posed to pregnant women and their children.

She added that doctors were being affected by Covid-19. "We need to save doctors' lives. If doctors start dying, who will save the patients?" she questioned.

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Doing the govt's job

"The Sindh chief minister is still advising people to stay at home but they are not listening. You saw what happened in Tableeghi Jamaat. Only one person might have had [the virus] but now all of them are affected. This virus spreads too fast, we need to stay at home and be protected," she said.

Shah added the doctors have been forced to "do the government's job because the government is not doing it".

She said that doctors will not be able to work on treatments and developing vaccines if the authorities fail to ensure that precautionary measures are being taken. She added that the country's health system will not be able to cope with increasing cases.

Advising businessmen to "leave profit for a little while" and keep their businesses closed, she cited China's example, which she said had managed to control the spread of the disease by enforcing an effective lockdown.

'80pc capacity in hospitals filled'

Another doctor, present at the conference said that "80 per cent of the capacity in Karachi hospitals that dealt with coronavirus patients has been filled". She appealed to people to stay at home, saying that if people followed lockdown measures for one to 1.5 months, it would be "effective" in controlling the spread of Covid-19.

Dr Razia warned people to not think "no danger is coming". She appealed to Pakistani women across the country to keep their "children, husbands and brothers" at home.

"If we don't take precautions, we will suffer. We don't know how many of our patients in gynaecology wards have viruses. We don't have testing kits. I appeal to the entire Pakistani nation to stay at home. The government is doing a lot for us, please stay at home," she urged.

"We are fighting on the front lines. Our medical staff has been infected with coronavirus because our health system is not good." She added that experts have projected that cases are likely to increase further in the coming weeks.

"We don't have enough beds in our intensive care units, we do not have enough ventilators. Doctors have started awareness campaigns on how to protect ourselves. We are doing a lot from our side," she said while appealing to people to stay at home.

Dr Nighat Shah added: "Our work is to save people, we have to stop our work and do the government's work instead. We have been forced to come here and plead in front of people because we can't see these many deaths. Our system has ended."

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While advising people to offer prayers at home during Ramazan, she added that Islam was a "practical religion" and does not tell followers to expose themselves to diseases.

Dr Farah, who recently retired from Dow Hospital said that despite the government's efforts, doctors did not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE). "Doctors salaries are already less. A doctor who is already risking his life to come and serve has to purchase PPE on his own," she lamented.

KP doctors seek complete lockdown

The Provincial Doctors Association in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has strongly recommended complete lockdown and separate hospitals at divisional level for the infected people to contain spread of the virus and manage active patients effectively.

Read: KP doctors seek complete lockdown amid rising cases of Covid-19

PDA president Dr Amir Taj Khan said that it required a complete lockdown to enable people to stay home and enforce social distancing otherwise the health system would collapse and all the health workers would end up infected with the virus that would leave the patients in lurch.

Taraweeh prayers restricted after doctors' warning

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced late on Thursday night that the evening Taraweeh prayers during the holy month of Ramazan will be restricted to 3-5 persons and the rest of the people will have to offer the prayers at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Read: Sindh restricts Tara­weeh prayers in mosques to 3-5 persons after doctors' warning

He said doctors at a press conference on Wednesday had cautioned that frontline healthcare workers will be helpless against the rapid spread of Covid-19 if large gatherings including congregational prayers are not stopped. Doctors from the Pakistan Medical Association in Punjab expressed similar concerns earlier on Thursday.