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Published on: June 13, 2020
Report by our correspondent

Despite 2,000 new cases being wheeled into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s hospitals on a daily basis, there are hardly any beds available for them.

In the Lady Reading Hospital only 105 dedicated beds and 25 ventilators are available while the Hayatabad Medical Complex is furnished with 128 beds and 25 ventilators. The Ayub Teaching Hospital in Abbottabad currently has only 71 beds and 12 ventilators, and the Mardan Medical Complex is equipped with around 100 beds and 20 ventilators.

While the other three provinces have been suffering from the surge of Coronavirus, KP has not fared any better in controlling the situation. Now its public hospitals are feeling the strain as their limited equipment including COVID-19 beds and ventilators are quickly running out and virus patients continue to flood in. Patients have had little recourse other than become victims of misery, and on multiple occasions have vented frustrations ending up in vandalizing hospitals and abusing staff.

Dr. Rizwan Kundi, President of Young Doctors Association (YDA), Peshawar says the issue is becoming more and more difficult.

“We are nearly out of COVID-19 dedicated beds in our hospitals, and the situation has become utterly dire,” he says. “Our healthcare sector is on the verge of collapse as our doctors are also becoming infected, leaving only a handful to treat the increasing numbers of virus patients.”

Doctors in KP see a correlation in the alarming boom in virus-positive cases and the government’s decision to ease the lockdown. SOP violations have been rampant, with citizens refusing to practice social distancing and wearing masks and gloves in public spaces, while the government has turned a deaf ear to healthcare professionals’ pleas to reinstate the lockdown time and again. Even now, doctors maintain that a strict lockdown is currently the best option to reign in the spread of the contagion.

In return the government has placed the blame squarely upon the public’s shoulders, stating that it is the public that is refusing to understand and engage with the full extent of the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that citizens should do their utmost in cooperating with the authorities.

KP Minister of Labour and Culture, Shaukat Yousafzai expressed his frustration with the general public.

“The Prime Minister and Chief Minister KP have lifted restrictions on transport, on markets – yet people refuse to adhere to protective measures,” he said. “Do they not value their lives? We implore with the public to please prioritize their lives and health before they go out to markets.”