Attendants and relatives of a patient attacked and vandalised the coronavirus isolation ward at Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital late Thursday night.
They had resorted to violence after being refused permission to take the deceased patient’s body home, said hospital officials. The patient had passed away from what was believed to be COVID-19. It is not yet clear whether his test results are available.
His PCR test was sent to the JPMC laboratory for diagnosis after he was referred from Dow University Ojha Hospital. This was revelaed in a letter Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of JPMC, on Friday wrote to the Sindh Health Department and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, informing them of the incident.
Videos of the incident were shared on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter and showed the ward had been trashed, equipment destroyed and broken glass everywhere. The hospital staff was seen frantically trying to control the situation while shifting the deceased patient’s body.
Around two dozen people had carried out the attack, Dr Jamali told SAMAA Digital. She confirmed that computers and printers had been destroyed. Some people claimed a coronavirus PCR testing machine had also been destroyed. However, Dr Jamali said that wasn’t true.
The Rangers were called to the scene at night. They arrested around eight of the protesters. An FIR was lodged by the SHO Saddar, said Dr Jamali. None of the hospital staff sustained injuries.
After a patient with COVID-19 passes away, hospitals have to report the death to the government and only trained people wearing PPEs are allowed to handle the body. This is because there is a risk of the virus being transmitted from the deceased person’s body.
So far, no family members or relatives in the country have been allowed to prepare the body for burial due to this reason. In her letter, Dr Jamali requested the government to review and urgently revise the SOPs for handing over the body to family members.
She also suggested that arrangements be made by the government to post police officers and Rangers outside COVID-19 wards of all hospitals.