Pakistan: Police baton-charged doctors who were demanding protective gear to fight coronavirus

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Apr 06, 2020, 08.17 PM(IST)

Pakistan police detaining a doctor Photograph:( Reuters )

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Some medical professionals were dragged too by riot police who were armed with rifles and batons

In a shocking development, Pakistan cops baton-charged medical personnel as hundreds protested over lack of gear to protect against coronavirus. 

In the southwestern city of Quetta, the riot police's heavy-handed approach was seen by Reuters journalists as they thrashed doctors and paramedics who protested over the demands of safety equipment. Some medical professionals were dragged too by riot police who were armed with rifles and batons. 

Also read | Coronavirus cases climb to 3,520 in Pakistan as authorities scramble to contain spread

A senior police official said 30 demonstrators had been arrested for violating a ban on public gatherings imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19. Doctors threatened boycotting work untill the detainees were released. 

Also read | Coronavirus in Pakistan: 20,000 quarantined as 300 Tablighi Jamaat members test positive

Dr Abdul Rahim, a spokesman for the doctors' union leading the protest said the failure to supply safety gear to doctors and medical staff is putting their lives at risk. 

“A dozen doctors have been infected while other medical staff is also suffering,” Rahim said. He added that a number of protesters were injured in the incident. 

Last month, similar threats of not going to work were issued by doctors from Pakistan's capital Islamabad city too as they complained of lack of safety gear. 

Pakistan's disaster management authority has said that the gear is being imported in batches. 

However, a spokesman for the provincial government said that the doctors protesting were not the ones who are fighting the virus, adding hospitals in Quetta had been provided protective gear. 

"The doctors protesting don't look after coronavirus patients; we don't understand their justification for protesting," Balochistan government spokesman Liquat Shahwani said.

Pakistan has reported over 3,200 coronavirus cases so far, including 50 deaths. As many as 191 of these cases have been confirmed in Balochistan province, of which Quetta is the capital.

(With inputs from Reuters)