ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi issued a clarification on Thursday, saying that his N-95 face mask was given to him in China where he had gone on an official visit last month, a day after he earned doctors’ ire for wearing the mask at a meeting in Lahore.
The reaction from health circles came in the background of a clash between the Young Doctors Association (YDA) and police in Quetta on Monday wherein some 30 doctors were detained for protesting against what they said was the non-provision of essential medical gear including the face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits.
Subsequently, on Wednesday, President Alvi chaired a briefing session by the Punjab government regarding coronavirus at the Civil Secretariat in Lahore wherein he was pictured wearing an N-95 mask. The footage elicited a strong reaction from the medical bodies, with the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) saying that “politicians and bureaucrats should not wear N-95 masks” without naming the president.
“The PMA has observed that protective items required for healthcare providers working for coronavirus or non-coronavirus patients are being misused. Particularly the misuse of N-95 masks has been observed by a large number of PMA members and the general public,” the statement read.
Taking to Twitter on Thursday, President Alvi issued a clarification on the issue. “As a doctor, I am strongly aware of misuse and wastage. I was reusing the N-95 mask that was given to me in China,” he wrote.
“Finally its strap broke yesterday so in next meeting at Wing Commander Nouman Akram Shaheed’s house, you see me wearing a regular public mask,” the president said. “I hope my clarification finds equal billing.”
As a Dr I am strongly aware of misuse & wastage. I was re-using the N-95 mask that was given to me in China. Finally its strap broke y/day so in next mtng @ WingCmdr Noman Akram Shaheed’s house you see me wearing regular public mask. I hope my clarification finds equal billing ? pic.twitter.com/bXDLHnwe4d
— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) April 9, 2020
On Wednesday, the president had paid a visit to the house of Wing Commander Nouman Akram, who was martyred in an accidental crash last month.