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No new Covid-19 case in 64 hours, says Bihar minister. Doctors caution against celebration




A medic looks on at a patient who has shown positive symptoms for coronavirus at an isolation ward in Hyderabad on 10 March
A medic looks on at a patient who has shown positive symptoms for coronavirus at an isolation ward (representational image) | PTI

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Patna: Bihar has not seen any fresh novel coronavirus cases in nearly three days, state health minister Mangal Pandey said Tuesday. But doctors in Bihar cautioned against early euphoria.

“It’s been 64 hours since we last detected a coronavirus positive case and the number (of positive patients) has remained 32. It is an auspicious indication,” Pandey told ThePrint.

“We are testing any and every person who shows symptoms like congested lungs. Why should we go for community testing?” added Pandey in response to the criticism over restricted testing.

Until Tuesday, Bihar had tested around 4,200 people, said Pandey.

However, doctors in the state said the Nitish Kumar government should not let its guard down.

“We should wait for at least another five days. However, I do find that the fear factor among health workers and the people has decreased,” said Dr Ajay Kumar Sinha, the nodal officer for coronavirus cases in Patna’s Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH).

Earmarked by the government for treatment of Covid-19 patients, NMCH has received 16 coronavirus positive patients so far out of which eight have recovered and sent home.

“Many of those who have coronavirus and are quarantined will not know that they are suffering from the virus. According to reports more than 8,500 people are still quarantined. We should wait for another few days,” said Ajay Alok, a private practitioner in Patna.

“The news that there has been no fresh case in Bihar for the last 64 hours is positive but it should be treated with caution,” added Alok.

Also read: This is the ‘Bhilwara model’ Modi govt is looking to use across India to fight Covid-19

The testing question

Doctors in the state pointed to the low number of tests in the state as a cause for worry.

“Two weeks ago, the Bihar health department held a meeting with senior doctors and I said that the only way out was test and test and test. Unfortunately, the number of testing is grossly inadequate for a state having a population of 13 crore,” said Dr Ajit Pradhan, a leading cardiac surgeon in Patna.

“How does one know the number of coronavirus positive patients living undetected?” asked Pradhan.

He advocated the adoption of the ‘Bhilwara model’ in the state.

After being identified as one of the Covid-19 hotspots, Bhilwara was virtually sealed off amid a “ruthless containment” with a “100% screening”. In the last eight days, Bhilwara has reported just 1 positive case.

However, Prabhat Kumar, former superintendent of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna, said Bihar doesn’t need the Bhilwara model, which should be restricted to just the hotspots.

But Sinha conceded that testing rates have been low. “Community testing would have been ideal. But there is a resource crunch. Bihar has been focusing on people who have a travel history and those who have come in contact with persons coming from abroad,” he said.

Others are pointing to the massive influx of migrant labourers coming to Bihar. The government has claimed that it has quarantined 25,000 of the migrant workers.

However, a senior retired doctor said on condition of anonymity, “The influx is larger and the government has no idea about the actual numbers. I think that CM Nitish Kumar instead of giving them doles like Rs 1,000 and three months’ ration should have paid for testing kits to get the labourers examined.”

Also read: How Covid-19 has affected men more, figures of both infected cases and deaths show

‘Time-taking process’

Until last week, Bihar had just one centre (Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences) for testing coronavirus cases. Since then, three more have been added — Patna Medical College and Hospital, IGIMS and Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital.

“In IGIMS, we get around 200 samples coming from various districts every day. It is a time-taking process,” said an IGIMS doctor who didn’t wish to be named.

Initially, there was a dearth of testing kits. However, over 25,000 testing kits have now been sent to the state, including antibody kits.

“The problem of these (antibody) kits is that they identify antibodies forming after one gets coronavirus. In many cases the antibodies may not have been formed and they will be tested negative. The same patient may test positive after 10 days,” Kumar highlighted as a concern for testing.

Also read: After nearly 15,000 deaths, this is how Italy managed to bring its daily Covid-19 toll down


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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