The Race against Time amidst COVID-19 Invasion: Physicians and Pharmacists Up Against Coronavirus Pandemic in Pakistan
The coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan, China now threatens mankind draining most of us dry at the mere mention of it. Having preyed upon 213,727 people, as we speak, across the globe, the COVID-19, by now has claimed 8794 lives whereas 84,314 have been released from the deadly talons. Since no cure has yet been discovered, the only hope to survive the deadly COVID-19 invasion of the human body is the body’s natural defense mechanism we call the immune system.
How to fight against such an outbreak when its stimuli are not just any visible factors but a virus that is transmitted from one person to another faster than it gets detected? The spread of coronavirus in Pakistan is no different from the rest of the world. The biggest issue in Pakistan right now is to distinguish between affected people and healthy people.
Coronavirus Stats in Pakistan
Dr. Zafar Mirza confirmed the first two coronavirus patients through his tweet on 26th February. The carriers recently traveled from Iran to Pakistan. The first case – a 22 years old patient from Karachi was treated in Agha Khan hospital. The 2nd patient is from Skardu who received treatment in PIMS Islamabad. Both patients were kept in isolation wards. But there is more into it – what if the virus is already out there before being detected in these two individuals? The COVID-19 could easily have affected people around these known victims before being discovered?
Meanwhile, the 3rd case was reported in Fateh Jang, Punjab. By March 16, the number of infected patients rose to 179 in Sindh alone out of which 146 were those who recently returned from Iran whereas 43 new patients were also reported to have shown the symptoms. By March 18, the tally climbed to 241 with 26 cases in Punjab,172 in Sindh, 17 in KPK,15 in Balochistan,8 in Islamabad, and 3 in Gilgit.
The government has provided free COVID-19 testing kits to 14 laboratories but that is not enough for 220,892,340 people of Pakistan and lack of proper PPEs worsens the situation.
Former administrator PIMS while talking to local media told that daily OPD influx has reached a total of 10,000 patients per day and it increases the risk of the COVID-19 spread. As per data, 448 physicians and 309 paramedical staff are working on 1100 bed hospital but only the COVID-19 ward is being equipped with basic personnel protective equipment while the rest of the hospital lacks complete protection facility increasing the risk of the infection. Only 10 beds have been allotted to isolation ward for COVID-19 susceptible out of which five are occupied, two confirmed cases and 1 awaits fate on the ventilator. Besides this 500 patients visited this ward for a checkup over the last two days.
A lady who recently returned from the USA was shifted to the ventilator on March 14 after her condition became critical. Later on, the two doctors who shifted that lady to the ventilator were also shifted to another isolation ward because they developed disease symptoms due to poor personnel protection. One of these doctors is a senior practitioner who works in the Critical Care Unit and the other used to serve the medical unit.
Another doctor from Nishtar Hospital Multan working round the clock to help patients with the infection also started to show symptoms of the disease due to a lack of proper protective equipment. Regardless of the circumstances, physicians are performing their duties for the sake of other people’s lives.
Combating Scarcity in the Need of the Hour!
The current situation has led to a shortage of masks and hand sanitizers but on duty, doctors are still doing their jobs by using a piece of clothes as the makeshift solution.
PAK’s Pharmacists Volunteer Their Services against COVID-19
Where physicians are working day and night in hospitals, pharmacists in universities, hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies are also contributing a lot in combating the shortage of sanitizers and hand wash. Community pharmacists have started awareness campaigns and are also educating the public about precautionary measures. The IPS department of UVAS, Lahore took the initiative of preparing sanitizers from basic lab ingredients.
Leading to the preparation of the first batch of laboratory sanitizers and they also offered their help to others who are willing to prepare sanitizers on their own.
Surprisingly they were not alone in this ambition. Dr Waris Nawaz and faculty of MIIPS also prepared aloe-gel hand sanitizer under supervision Dr Muhammad Yaseen, Director MIIPS,Mirpur AJK.
The pharmacy department, Bahauddin Zakariya University,Multan has also started preparing hand sanitizer sprays.
Hospital Pharmacists working at THQ, Wazirabad have also started using self-made sanitizers.
Besides this many pharmacists working in several private hospitals and dermatology clinics have also started to prepare sanitizers and hand washes for their safety and safety of others as taking precautionary measures is best we can do at the moment.
Everything is in Your Hand
The best precautionary measure against this virus is to stay indoors, avoid gatherings, frequent hand wash and avoid handshaking because “everything is in your hand”.