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MHA says Covid-19 ‘especially serious’ in some cities, deploys central teams 

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Health workers wearing protective suits walk on a street in Kolkata | Representational image | PTI


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New Delhi: The Union government has said the COVID-19 situation is “especially serious” in Mumbai, Pune, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata and a few other places in West Bengal, and warned that violation of lockdown measures risks the spread of the novel coronavirus further.

Acting swiftly, the Union Home Ministry also announced that six inter-ministerial central teams (IMCTs) will visit these identified areas in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan within the next three days to make on-the-spot assessment and recommend remedial measures in a report to the Centre.

In identical orders issued to the four states on Sunday, the home ministry said there have been several incidents of violence against COVID-19 front-line healthcare professionals, complete violation of social distancing norms and movement of vehicles in urban areas.

These incidents, if they are allowed to occur without any restraining measures in hotspot districts or emerging hotspots, with large outbreaks or clusters, pose a serious health hazard, both for the population of these districts and for that living in other areas of the country, it said.

Reacting to the development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted  the basis on which the Centre has proposed to deploy its teams was “unclear” and added “we would not be able to move ahead on this as without valid reasons this might not be consistent with the spirit of federalism”.


Also read: Covid-19 does not see race, religion, caste before striking, says PM Modi


After analysing the prevalence of such violations in major hotspot districts, it is clear to the central government that the situation is “especially serious” in Mumbai and Pune (Maharashtra), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Kolkata, Howrah, East Medinipur, North 24 Parganas, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri ( West Bengal), the home ministry said.

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 543 and the number of cases climbed to 17,265 in the country on Monday, according to the Union health ministry.

There are 4,203 confirmed coronavirus cases in Maharashtra of which 223 people lost their lives, according to Union health ministry data.

In Madhya Pradesh, out of the 1,407 cases, 70 people have succumbed to the disease.

Rajasthan has reported 1,478 cases of which 14 people lost their lives. In West Bengal, there are 339 confirmed cases of which 12 people died due to the infection, according to health ministry data.

The orders, signed by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, in his capacity as the chairperson of the National Executive Committee under the Disaster Management Act, also said the six inter-ministerial central teams will visit these hotspot areas and make on-spot assessment of the COVID-19 situation in these places and issue necessary directions to the four states.

The teams, comprising five members each, will be headed by an Additional Secretary-rank officer of the central government.

The six teams will make on-the-spot assessment of the situation, issue necessary directions to the state authorities for redressal of the situation, and submit their report to the central government in larger interest of general public.

The IMCTs will focus their assessment on the compliance and implementation of lockdown measures besides issues like the supply of essential commodities, social distancing, hospital facility and sample statistics in the district, safety of health professionals, availability of test kits, PPEs, masks and other safety equipment, and conditions of the relief camps for labour and poor people.

The orders also made it clear that the Ministry of Civil Aviation will provide air transportation, to and fro, from New Delhi to their respective place of visit (nearest airport), as their deployment is for an essential purpose of ensuring compliance to the lockdown measures.

The state governments will have to provide logistic support to the IMCT, for their accommodation, transportation, PPEs and extend all cooperation for their visits to local areas, production of documents and records as requested by the IMCTs.


Also read: Indians seem to have genetic and regional advantages in fight against coronavirus


 

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

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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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