South Asia
Pakistan: COVID-19 cases surge to 495, docs in Islamabad start strike to protest lack of protective gears

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 21 Mar 2020

Islamabad: As the number of confirmed Coronavirus-hit patients touched 495 on Friday, reports of lack of proper implementation of the system by PM Imran Khan-led government to combat the menace have been sneaking out from Pakistan which is suspected to have an increased number of infected in the nation since the past few days.

According to local reports, doctors of four hospitals in Islamabad are on strike.

"They are saying that they will not work as they neither possess N-95 masks nor complete protective gear," sources said.

In Pakistan, Sindh has been worst hit as 252 people are affected by the deadly virus which has already left many dead in countries like China, Italy and Iran. Pakistan has recorded the deaths of three people.

According to Pakistani media, the Lal Masjid authorities, unlike other religious institutions in the nation who have adhered to government guidelines for preventing the spread of disease by limiting gatherings and congregations, defied the instructions of the Imran Khan-led administration and announced new study classes from Mar 20.

Defying government directives and seminary boards, Maulana Abdul Aziz and his wife Umme Hasan, who heads the Jamia Hafsa seminary, have decided to keep the seminary open and running, reported Dawn News.

He released a video on social media in which he could be seen carrying an assault rifle on his shoulder while sweeping the floor of the mosque. He criticised the government because the mosque was deserted and said he had been forced to clean the floor himself, reported the Pakistan-based newspaper.

The management of the mosque on Tuesday also announced a schedule for advanced Quran learning classes for men and women. The classes will be held separately, starting from March 20 (Rajab 25) until around May 20 (Ramazan 27), reported Dawn News.

Meanwhile, another Pakistani newspaper reported that several pilgrims from Iran, who are currently stuck in coronavirus quarantine camps at Taftan near the border with limited medical care, fear poor conditions is helping the spread of the disease.

Pakistan shares a 960-kilometre border with Iran and the country has been one of the key Coronavirus-hit countries in the world at present.

“I have been using the same mask for over seven days now,” one quarantined pilgrim at Taftan, who asked not to be named, said in a phone interview on Tuesday, was quoted as saying by Pakistan Today.

“If I didn’t have the virus when I first got here, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that I have it now.”

The Guardian reporting from Taftan said the camp, in the town of Taftan in Balochistan province, was supposed to function as a sanitary quarantine location, preventing the spread of the coronavirus from Iran, but instead, according to Mohammed Bakir, who was held there for two weeks, it was no more than “a prison … the dirtiest place I have ever stayed in my life”.

“These were the hardest days and nights of my life,” said Bakir speaking to The Guardian. “We were treated like animals. There were no facilities but also no humanity and everything was in disarray. They were not prepared; there was nothing for us to sleep in except some dilapidated tents.”

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