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Meet the doctor who treated Pakistan’s first coronavirus patient

A infectious disease specialist at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Dr Faisal Mahmood, is the doctor who successfully treated Pakistan’s first COVID-19 patient back in February/March.

Pakistan’s first COVID-19 patient was brought to the hospital on February 26. The 22-year-old boy had returned from Iran a few days before he was infected. As he felt unwell, he went to AKUH for a test which came out to be positive.

“Once he tested positive, we admitted him immediately,” Dr Mahmood said. “Although he had COVID symptoms, he seemed healthy and calm. Since we were all prepared to deal with patients, it was an easy decision for the team: isolate him and go for supportive treatment.”

The Sindh government immediately quarantined and tested the patient’s family whose results were all negative.

The man soon recovered. “It was a memorable day for the patient, his family and the healthcare team when he was discharged from the hospital,” Dr Mahmood said with a smile on his face. “He is now doing well, talking to the media and spreading the message that being COVID positive is not a death sentence – you can get well.”

The patient’s father has written a letter of appreciation to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, praising the provincial government for its timely response and the Aga Khan University Hospital. He lauded Dr Mahmood and his team “for showing utmost care and professionalism in the line of their duty.”

Dr Mahmood was anticipating a healthcare emergency in Pakistan when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Along with his colleagues, he began assessing preparations and started coordinating with the provincial and federal governments.

This is not a fight that we can win through health workers or government measures alone, says Dr Mahmood. Every individual has to fight for themselves and reduce their risk of getting infected to reduce the chance of others getting infected.

Dr Mahmood has done public advocacy work on infectious diseases. He is a board certified internal medicine (infectious diseases) specialist who graduated from AKU in 1997.

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