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Corona-Infected Doctors In Quetta Being Wrongly Declared Negative To Prevent Shortage Of Staff

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QUETTA: I remember it was the morning of April 4, 2020 when a smart contingent of law enforcement agencies saluted us for our services as ‘frontline soldiers’ in the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and just two day later [on April 6], they baton-charged us for protesting against non-availability of personal protective equipment (PPEs),”says Dr Saboor Ahmed Kakar, a Quetta-based doctor.

Dr Kakar and four members of his family were tested positive for coronavirus and they are currently quarantined at their house.

“One of my cousins delivers us grocery and other food-related commodities at gate of our house as my father and I were used to bring things from market and for the last two weeks, we are under quarantine along with three other members of my family,” Dr Kakar explains their routine during medical isolation.

“I was not as worried the day I was tested positive for coronavirus, but I was concerned the day tests of my father [over 60 years of age], younger brother and two sister came out positive,” the affected doctors said, but added that they are now on the path to recovery.

About the protest, he says, “Only six of their colleagues were COVID-19-positive when they had initiated protest [demanding protective equipment] on May 6, because they had apprehension that the situation can be complicated if protective measures are not taken immediately. And today [on May 13], the number of affected doctors has grown to 103, he lamented.

The government instead of providing PPEs not only baton-charged them but also jailed dozens of protesting doctors and paramedical staff. They arrested protesting health workers under section 144 [the section applied to stop gathering to avoid risks and security threats] but violated their own rules by cramming more than 40 protesters into a van. They also kept us in a single room for two days without taking any protective measures, he said.

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On April 8, when he was released from the police station, he was not feeling well. He had no other option but to go home. Two days later he was tested positive. And when the health team tested the rest of his family members they were tested positive too, Dr Kakar told Naya Daur.

He says if one mentions ‘doctor’ with their name on their test receipt, your test will come out negative even if you have COVID-19,” adding that at first he was also falsely declared free from coronavirus as the word ‘doctor’ was mentioned with his name.

A theory is circulating in our area that most doctors and other paramedics who are coronavirus-positive have been falsely declared negative in order to prevent shortage of human force, he says.

About one of his colleagues whose house is only 20 minutes drive from the hospital where he works, Dr Kakar said that he didn’t go home since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic because his parents are diabetics.

Regarding challenges, he said, “We are working long hours without salaries from months. He said that if the government cannot announce special package for its frontline soldiers it should at least release their pending salaries.

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Naya Daur