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March 30, 2020

Saviours at risk


March 30, 2020

PESHAWAR: With most of the health workers complaining about the lack of basic safety equipment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the death of 60-year old woman, who tested positive for coronavirus after her expiry in cardiology department of Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) in Peshawar, has created unrest among the doctors and nursing staff as neither the elderly woman nor her attendants shared her travel history with the hospital staff.

It was after her death when the doctors in cardiology department took her swab and sent it to the laboratory of Khyber Medical University (KMU), in which she tested positive for coronavirus.

The HMC administration had to shut the 12-bed Coronary Care Unit (CCU) for two days and isolate the doctors (trainee medical officers) and nursing staff for two weeks apparently due to criminal negligence of the attendants of the patient.

The elderly woman had returned from Saudi Arabia on March 15, where she had gone to perform Umrah along with other family members.

She belonged to Talash town of Lower Dir district in the Malakand Division.

According to the doctors of cardiology department in HMC, the woman was initially taken to a hospital in Lower Dir when she felt pain in the chest.

The doctors in Lower Dir had reportedly told her attendants that she seemed to be a suspected coronavirus patient

and advised them to take her immediately to the cardiology department in HMC.

“They shifted the patient to HMC on March 24 where the casualty staff again asked about her recent travel history. And her attendants even told the casualty staff that she had not travelled anywhere,” said a cardiologist in HMC.

Pleading anonymity, he said the patient was shifted to the CCU where she was given immediate cover by the staff present on duty.

“The doctors and nurses in CCU again asked her attendants as if she had any travel history, and even asked them if she had gone for Umrah recently.

And all of them denied any travel history but one thing that surprised our staff in the CCU is all of them were wearing gloves,” the cardiologist recalled.

He said the attendants were quite clever as they immediately purchased gloves when the doctors in Lower Dir told them that they suspected the patient could be infected with coronavirus.

According to the doctors, the woman had multiple health complications and she died on March 24, apparently due to chest problem coupled with heart dysfunction.

The doctors took her swab and sent it to the Khyber Medical University (KMU) for investigation, while her attendants took the body to their native Talash area for burial. She tested positive for Covid-19 in the laboratory report. It was not less than a shock for the entire staff of cardiology department but particularly those who remained close with the patient and treated her at the CCU considering her as a normal patient.

“The irony is that our staff treated the Covid-19 patient without following any proper protocol considering her as normal heart patient.

We had to shut the CCU for two days for proper fumigation and isolated our staff members for two weeks, because of the negligence of the patient and her attendants,” the cardiologist complained.

The recent death of young physician in Gilgit-Baltistan, Dr Osama Riaz had frightened people of medical community all over the country, particularly those directly dealing the patients suffering from coronavirus.

He said besides their staff members, their family members were also worried about them. “And the attendants had also put in danger lives of other patients admitted in CCU by intentionally hiding her travel history from the doctors.

Also, family members and relatives of the late woman are at risk now as they might have touched her body and remained close to her before the burial.

Even those attended the funeral and placed

her body in the grave could have possibly contracted the virus,” he argued.

This story is widely shared among the doctor community and they decided now to take each and every patient brought to them as coronavirus positive.

Some officials in HMC said they would ask the government to trace her attendants and punish them for intentionally putting lives of many people in danger by hiding her travel history.

Deputy Commissioner Lower Dir has reportedly sealed the area where the patient lived in Talash so it couldn’t affect other people.

The story about her travel history was in fact disclosed by deputy district health officer Lower Dir Dr Irshad Ali in his report when she tested positive for coronavirus.