ISLAMABAD: Days after Dr Usama Riaz died due to coronavirus, another health worker in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) passed away on Sunday.
55-year-old Malik Ashdar was looking after suspected and confirmed coronavirus patients in Nagar district, but due to the lack of protective gear among health workers, he soon developed coronavirus symptoms. After spending a week in an isolation centre, he passed away on Sunday while his test reports came hours later, confirming his infection.
Another frontline health worker in GB fell to #covid19 today. Malik Ashdar, a nurse in the GB Health Dept, contracted the virus while tending to patients in Nagar. May his soul rest in peace.
Unless we urgently provide our health workers with PPE, we will lose this battle. pic.twitter.com/M97EXXLbnn
— Ammar Rashid #StayHome #BasicIncomeNow (@AmmarRashidT) March 29, 2020
It is worth mentioning here that a number of health workers continue to perform their duties in the area without proper protective gear. There are currently 34 confirmed cases of the virus in the district, including 11 locally-transmitted cases, but health officials and residents suspect there could be more cases and have urged the federal government to ensure the provision of better facilities.
Muhammad Jamil, a local resident, told this scribe that there are currently 100 suspects who are either waiting for their test results or are awaiting the test itself. When asked about Ashdar, he said that the health worker was not given proper treatment in the isolation centre.
Although his test results came positive, the GB Information Department is yet to confirm his death as the second coronavirus casualty in the area.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, an official of the GB Health Department said that due to the non-availability of testing kits, no suspected patient was tested in the past three days. He said that National Institute of Health (NIH) in Gilgit has limited resources and the fact that samples have to be sent there manually also causes a delay in treating patients effectively. However, he added, China’s assistance in this regard would enable GB to conduct more tests.