Stigmatizing Covid-19 infected

A doctor in Karachi infected with Covid-19 chose not to go to hospital but remain in his house, because of the inhumane manner in which patients suffering from this pandemic have been treated by administration. He died under tragic circumstances. Why should patients, such as this doctor feel stigma associated with this pandemic?

By the time, first patient tested positive in Pakistan, an SOP (TESTING, TRACING, TREATING) approved by WHO had been laid down and all we had to do was adopt it. The Federal Government should have declared Medical Emergency by acquiring all civil, military and private hospitals and clinics to meet this challenge, pooling available infrastructure. Hospitals which cater to specific sicknesses like cancer, cardiology related issues etc. should have been excluded and instead all such patients in other hospitals shifted there. Instead what followed was chaos. Health specialists should have been placed at helm and their instructions followed.

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What made matters worse was confusion created by federal and provincial governments with their conflicting statements. Blaming tax paying middle class for imposing lockdown without bothering about poor daily wagers is living in denial. The elite that decides fate of this country live in palatial villas and farm houses, spread over several acres, totally secluded from citizens, while it is mostly middle class that live in 1-kanal or 10-marla plots in DHA and Gulberg Lahore. The Real Elite get tax exemptions and sell plots which are allotted to them or were irregularly acquired.

The administration given task to manage this pandemic lacks basic skills to handle patients, while simultaneously ensuring that their sensitivities and self-respect are not tarnished. People infected could have been approached discreetly instead of loads of security personnel invading their privacy, making a spectacle. The infected should have choice of self-isolation at their residence provided they have sufficient rooms. People were infected because State failed to follow proper procedures to quarantine those who returned from COVIT19 infected countries at our border crossings and airports, with many leaving without any protocol being followed.

Malik Tariq Ali


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