By Gul Yousafzai
QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani doctors went on strike in two hospitals in southwest Quetta on Tuesday, the day after the police used violence to break up and arrest doctors who protested against lack of equipment to protect them from the corona virus.
Hundreds of doctors and paramedics protested Monday's failure to deliver the promised supplies. At least 30 doctors were arrested by the riot police for opposing a ban on public gatherings during a ban to combat the spread of the virus.
"We are on strike to protect our doctors and paramedics," said one of the detained doctors, Hanif Luni, a leader of the association who had arranged the protest, told Reuters on the phone from his police cell.
He said that emergency doctors remained on duty in the cardiac and gynecological departments, adding that the strike had spread to other parts of the Baluchistan province, the capital of which is Quetta.
Pakistan has reported nearly 4,000 coronavirus cases, including 54 deaths, over 200 of which occur in underdeveloped Baluchistan.
An official from the Baluchistan Health Department, Dr. Wasim Baig said 14 doctors and 10 other medical workers in the province were infected with the virus.
The provincial government says that doctors who work with coronavirus patients have been provided with protective equipment and that the protesting doctors have not dealt with infected patients.
The spokesman for the Pakistani Civil Protection Agency, which directs nationwide efforts to fight the virus, said Baluchistan received more safety equipment than was needed for frontline medical personnel, including masks, overalls, gloves, and goggles.
"Our first priority is to care for doctors and staff at the forefront," spokesman Saqib Mumtaz told Reuters, adding that those who are not on coronavirus service would have got what they needed and would get more .
"We don't have too little equipment," he said.
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