Balochistan extends lockdown till April 21 amid doctors’ boycott
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As doctors continued boycotting the state-run hospitals in Quetta over brutal police action, the Balochistan government on Tuesday extended the lockdown till April 21.
As the talks between the government ministers and doctors failed, the protesters said they would not resume talks unless the police officers and the health secretary were suspended.
The boycott is backed by the Young Doctors Association (YDA) Balochistan and Pakistan Medical Council (PMA) which had extended support to the former after the police crackdown.
On the other hand, the government has refused to release the 54 doctors arrested on Monday.
Meanwhile, the victims of this entire episode are the patients, especially those from the far-flung areas, as all departments at the hospitals have been shut down.
Earlier on Monday, the police resorted to baton charge and arrested several doctors as the YDA Balochistan staged a sit-in in the red zone near the Chief Minister’s House in Quetta.
The police action came as the doctors and paramedical staff wanted to move towards the Chief Minister’s House while refusing to end their protest over the failure to provide the protection gear amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Footage available with the 24NewsHD clearly shows the police using force against the protesters and dragging them into vehicles.
Meanwhile, the YDA Punjab warned that they would stop working in the hospitals if the arrested persons were not released by 8pm.
Similarly, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) announced its full support to the YDA, saying they will stand by the young doctors in the future course of action.
The announcement came at an emergency meeting of YDA Balochistan after the use of force against the protesting doctors.
As the YDA had announced a protest against the Balochistan government, a large contingent of police was deployed around the Governor’s House and Chief Minister’s House on Monday.
They had planned to besiege the Governor’s House and Chief Minister’s House over the government’s inability to provide PPE [personal protection equipment] to enable the doctors and other healthcare staff to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the doctors, they are protesting against the government’s callousness and to protect their genuine rights.
They said several doctors had so far been infected by the virus and the government’s claims of providing the health services only remained a claim.
There are reports that at least 16 doctors and four paramedics have so far been tested positive for coronavirus in Balochistan.
The government had not paid attention to their demands despite being repeatedly informed about the grave situation, the doctors added.
Last week, the Balochistan government had suspended 44 doctors over failure to join duty in Taftan during the coronavirus outbreak in the province.
The YDA Balochistan had gone on strike last week over the government’s lack of interest in tackling the coronavirus pandemic and not supplying the PPE.