Frontline health workers in Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, are carrying out sit-in protests against the poor quality of their personal protection equipment as they try to care for people stricken by the deadly coronavirus.
Salman Haseeb Chaudhry, president of Punjab's provincial chapter of the Young Doctor’s Association, said on April 26 that substandard equipment is leading to an increasing number of health professionals contracting COVID-19.
Chaudhry said an alliance of health workers has formed, including nurses and paramedics, to demand greater protection.
Chaudhry said 100 health professionals in Pakistan had tested positive for coronavirus during the previous 24 hours.
Pakistan on April 26 had confirmed a total of 12,723 cases of the virus with 269 deaths. The true number of infections is thought to be much higher.
Pakistan has been recording a steady daily increase of about 750 positive cases during the past week. Testing is still low with barely 6,800 people tested per day in a country of 220 million people.
Pakistan has struggled to get protective equipment to its health professionals. Doctors in the southwestern province of Baluchistan who protested against the shortage of adequate protective equipment were detained by authorities earlier in April. They were freed within hours.
Pakistan's government has increased its stocks of protective equipment after receiving planeloads of supplies from China and stepping up local production.
But Chaudhry said the quality of much of the protective equipment is substandard.
Based on reporting by AP and Reuters