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Civil aviation ministry forced to shut offices again as junior staffer tests positive




The Ministry of Civil Aviation headquarters is located at Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan in Jor Bagh, New Delhi | ANI | Twitter
The Ministry of Civil Aviation headquarters is located at Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan in Jor Bagh, New Delhi | ANI | Twitter

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New Delhi: The Ministry of Civil Aviation shut its offices Wednesday, just two days after all central ministry offices reopened amid the lockdown, following a junior staffer testing positive for Covid-19.

Ministry officials said Block B in the Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan in New Delhi’s Jor Bagh, where the civil aviation ministry headquarters is situated, will be sealed.

“He is a junior staffer from the ministry who started showing some symptoms Sunday … Just mild cold and cough,” a senior official from the ministry said. “Monday, he got himself tested, and yesterday the reports came from Max Saket that he has tested positive,” the official added.

“The entire building has been sealed … It will be fumigated and sanitised. The NDMC and the Delhi government have already been informed,” another senior official from the ministry said, adding, “As for us, we took a call to go back and work from home for another three days because all said and done, the staffer moved around in corridors, lifts, washrooms, etc.”

The official added, “The district surveillance team in Delhi has also been roped in for contact tracing of the staffer, since we don’t know exactly who he came in contact with.”

The ministry tweeted from its official handle that all necessary protocol regarding contact tracing and risk profiling is under way.

Also read: Working from home, office or via social media, Modi ministers busier than ever in lockdown

Covid-19 still throws spanner in the works

The development comes three days after a staff member’s daughter at the Rashtrapati Bhawan tested positive, prompting a cluster of 125 residential houses in the estate to be sealed.

The government is working on a phased return of central government employees to ministries, and directed 100 per cent of employees above deputy secretary level and 33 per cent of junior staff to report to offices from 14 April.

However, the latest incidents have raised concerns among officials.

“Once you are in the office space, it is very hard to keep 100 per cent control … Frankly, there was no need to put the health of all employees in jeopardy by opening up so soon,” said an official from the health ministry, who did not wish to be named.

“What all can you sanitise and how many times? This case has caused some degree of alarm and panic, for sure,” the official added.

India’s current tally of active cases has crossed 15,000 and 640 deaths have been recorded, according to the Union health ministry data. On Monday, the ministry, in its daily briefings with the Indian Council of Medical Research, said 80 per cent of India’s Covid-19 cases were asymptomatic, i.e., individuals do not show any symptoms of the disease.

Also read: Infection rate in 18 states offers hope but MP, Rajasthan, Bengal, Maharashtra are worries


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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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