Pakistan police clash with doctors protesting lack of coronavirus protection gear

Police arrest doctors demanding facilities and prevention kits to attend coronavirus patients in Quetta, Pakistan on Monday, April 6, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 06 April 2020

Pakistan police clash with doctors protesting lack of coronavirus protection gear

  • Protesters had been arrested for defying a ban on public gatherings imposed during a lockdown
  • Medics believe the failure to supply them with safety gear was putting them at risk

QUETTA, Pakistan: Riot police wielding batons used force to break up a protest by Pakistani doctors and medical staff against a lack of gear to protect against coronavirus, arresting dozens of medics who say the government has failed to deliver promised supplies.
Reuters journalists at the scene, in the southwestern city of Quetta, saw hundreds of doctors and paramedics, some in face masks and scrubs, chanting their demands. Some were dragged off by riot police in helmets, armed with rifles and batons.
A senior police official said 30 protesters had been arrested for defying a ban on public gatherings imposed during a lockdown to fight the spread of the virus. Doctors threatened to stop working unless the detained protesters were released.
Pakistan has reported a total of 3,277 cases of the virus, including 50 deaths. At least 191 of these cases are in the vastly underdeveloped province of Balochistan, of which Quetta is the capital.
Dr. Abdul Rahim, a spokesman for the doctors’ association leading the protest, told reporters after the incident that the medics believed the failure to supply them with safety gear was putting them at risk.
“A dozen doctors have been infected while other medical staff is also suffering,” he said. He added that a number of doctors and paramedics had been injured in the baton charge.
Doctors in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad last month also threatened to boycott duties if not provided protective gear, which has been in short supply. The country’s disaster management authority has said it is being imported in batches.
A spokesman for the provincial government told Reuters hospitals in Quetta dealing with coronavirus had been provided protective gear, and the medics who were demonstrating were not those fighting the virus.
“The doctors protesting don’t look after coronavirus patients; we don’t understand their justification for protesting,” Balochistan government spokesman Liquat Shahwani said.
The doctors say they deal with hundreds of visiting patients daily who could be infected but are unaware and have not been referred to the hospitals and centers dealing with coronavirus. Medical workers who have so far been infected do not all work at such centers.
Global rights watchdog Amnesty International’s South Asia wing condemned the arrests in a statement on Twitter, terming it an attack on the doctors’ right to peaceful protest and an affront to the risks they face.


India overtakes Russia to become world’s third highest for virus cases

Updated 06 July 2020

India overtakes Russia to become world’s third highest for virus cases

  • The health ministry said 697,358 cases had now been recorded, a rise of 24,000 in the last 24 hours
  • India has registered 19,963 deaths from the virus

NEW DELHI: India announced Monday that it has nearly 700,000 coronavirus cases, taking it past Russia to become the third-hardest-hit nation in the global pandemic.
The health ministry said 697,358 cases had now been recorded, a rise of 24,000 in 24 hours, while Russia has just over 681,000.
The United States and Brazil have the highest numbers of cases but India’s tally is not expected to peak for several more weeks and experts predict the one million figure will be passed this month.

India has registered 19,963 deaths from the virus, a much lower number than many other badly hit countries.
India’s major cities have been worst hit by the pandemic. New Delhi and Mumbai each have about 100,000 cases, with 3,000 dead in the capital and nearly 5,000 in Mumbai.
New Delhi has opened a new 10,000-bed temporary virus hospital while other cities are tightening restrictions on movement to head off a new surge in cases.
The Kerala state capital, Thiruvananthapuram imposed a new lockdown from Monday with public transport shut and only pharmacies allowed to open. The clampdown came after hundreds of new cases were reported across the state, which had been praised for its action to curtail the pandemic.