QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) – The Pakistani military promised on Tuesday that dozens of doctors were jailed briefly for protesting the lack of protective equipment needed to treat a growing number of corona virus cases that would get the equipment they needed.
47 doctors protested in Quetta, the capital of southwest Baluchistan province, on Monday, when they were detained. They were released later the same day, according to provincial spokesman Liaquat Shahwani.
A military statement on Tuesday said “emergency supplies of medical equipment, including PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) are being sent to Quetta.”
However, some doctors said they were persecuted by the police and that some of their colleagues were beaten. The doctors refused to give their names, afraid of reprisals.
Two doctors have died after contracting a new virus in Pakistan, which has recorded 4,004 cases and 54 deaths. Many cases have been traced to pilgrims returning from neighboring Iran. Pakistani authorities have imposed lockdowns throughout the country until April 14.
In Iran, authorities struggling to fight the virus announced on Tuesday that they would expand testing to asymptomatic people, but did not say how many test kits they had or provided other details.
Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki said that with active screening of such cases, there is hope that the virus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, can be controlled by mid-May.
“With this step, we will pursue people without symptoms,” Namaki said, adding this would require a large number of tests. He did not elaborate. The health ministry said the search for asymptomatic cases would be combined with restrictions on cities and intercity and inter-city travel.
Iran faces the worst outbreak in the region. Iranian state TV said Tuesday a new coronavirus had killed 133 people, pushing the country’s death rate to 3,872 amid 62,589 confirmed cases.
A ministry of health spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said 27,039 people had recovered so far while 3,987 were still in critical condition.
There are nearly 109,000 confirmed cases in the Middle East, with more than 4,600 deaths.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Tuesday tried to convince Egyptians a day after officials reported 149 new cases, the highest one-day count in the country since the pandemic began.
The El-Sissi government has imposed a curfew, suspended international air travel and closed schools and universities to curb the spread of the virus. Egypt has more than 1,320 confirmed cases and 85 deaths.
“So far, the situation is under control,” he said in comments broadcast on television. “The aim is to minimize the damage caused by a pandemic.” El-Sissi said he opposed total closure.
El-Sissi said the military had set up four field hospitals in various parts of the country with more than 500 beds to help treat virus patients.
For most people, new coronaviruses cause mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some people, especially older adults and sick people, it can cause pneumonia and result in death.
In a nursing home damaged by the corona virus in the city of Beersheba, southern Israel, another citizen died, the eighth so far there. Dozens of home residents have been infected and relatives have been protesting outrage outside the place in recent days.
In all, more than 9,000 have been infected in Israel and 60 have died, mostly elderly and many in assisted living facilities.
Associated Press writers, Nasser Karimi and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Samy Magdy in Cairo and Aron Heller in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
Follow AP news coverage on the coronavirus pandemic at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
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