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March 28, 2020

Four doctors, medical staff at top Karachi hospitals infected with COVID-19

National

March 28, 2020

KARACHI: Four doctors and related staff at the top hospitals of Karachi, including the Aga Khan and Liquat National Hospital, have tested positive for COVID-19.

At least three employees of the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), including a doctor, a radiologist and a staff, have contracted Coronavirus, compelling the hospital administration to suspend all the screening and testing of COVID-19 and screen most of their staff, including doctors, paramedics and nurses as well as other staff, The News has learnt.

Similarly, a doctor working at the Radiology Department of the Liaquat National Hospital (LNH), who had recently returned from the Tableegi Ijtimah from Raiwind, has also been tested positive and put in isolation at his home, the LNH administration said adding that seven of the persons, who came into contact with the infected radiologist, have been asked to remain in the quarantine for 14 days.

“Three of our staff members including a surgeon, a radiologist and another staff member have contracted COVID-19 virus but shockingly, they acquired the virus from ordinary patients who were not suspected of having coronavirus,” an official of the AKUH told The News on Friday, as at the moment, an environment of uneasiness prevails at the campus as “nobody knows who is infected and who is not”.

The AKUH official said following confirmation of Coronavirus infection among their staff and especially those who were not dealing with the suspected and confirmed Coroanvirus cases, the hospital had suspended the screening and testing of COVID-19 at its main campus at the moment focusing only at screening and testing of the AKUH doctors, paramedics, nurses and other staff members. “It is actually the community transmission of COVID-19, which resulted in infecting some of our staff members as they were not expecting their patients to be infected with the coronavirus. Now an extensive screening of the staff is underway while dozens of doctors and staff have been put in the quarantine and isolation to contain the spread of the disease,” the official said. Against this backdrop, now every patient coming to AKUH is being considered as suspected COVID-19 case and in this scenario, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) protocols are being followed. He said that even doctors and other staff had been directed to take precautionary measures and wear masks all around.

The Aga Khan University Hospital was the first private sector healthcare facility in Sindh that started screening and testing coronavirus way back in February 2020 while first COVID-19 patient, a 22-year-old man who had returned from Iran, was also tested positive and treated at the same health facility. Some credible insiders at the AKUH claimed that as many as 5-10 staff members had contracted the Coronavirus at the private health facility and by applying the contract tracing technique, the hospital administration has put around 150 people in quarantine while launching an extensive screening and testing campaign at the campus to identify the staff members who had come into contact with the infected people.

In view of the emergent situation, the AKUH administration has suspended screening and testing of coronavirus at the Community Health Center in the main campus and took the decision to introduce the ‘home testing service’ for suspected Coronavirus patients, a spokesperson of the AKUH told The News, saying they were compelled to suspend the screening and testing due to stringent measures announced by the provincial government to contain the spread of virus in the province. “We are establishing this service and within a couple of days, people would be apprised of an access number to approach the testing service for collection of samples which would be tested at the labs and results would be conveyed online,” the spokesperson added.

Furthermore, after some of the AKUH staff members tested positive for the COVID-19, the hospital administration is rapidly converting its treatment center at Karimabad into COVID-19 isolation and treatment facility, the AKUH officials said. Earlier, many doctors and staff members had expressed reservations over treating COVID-19 patients at the main campus, but the administration’s hand was forced in the wake of their staff contracting the contagion. Now it has been decided not to screen and treat any COVID-19 patient at the main campus.