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Haryana screens its entire population for flu symptoms, says situation ‘not alarming’




A doctor checks the temperature of a migrant worker as part of the screening process. (representational image) | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
A doctor checks the temperature of a migrant worker as part of the Covid-19 screening process. | Representational Image | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

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Chandigarh: The Haryana government has completed screening its entire population for flu-like symptoms, following a 10-day exercise that involved more than 20,000 teams of officials.

Amid a spike in the number of coronavirus cases in the state, Haryana had launched a door-to-door screening campaign on 10 April. Teams of village-level ASHA workers, along with auxiliary nursing midwives and, in many villages, anganwadi workers were asked to visit every household and gather details of anyone having flu-like symptoms. The exercise was completed on 20 April.

Haryana’s principal secretary (health), Rajiv Arora, told ThePrint that the data gathered is being analysed, and while the exact number of people suffering from flu-like symptoms is yet to be assessed, the situation emerging out of the exercise is “not alarming” and “quite handleable”.

Arora said persons showing symptoms are being monitored and will be tested. “We have already procured 35,000 rapid test kits, of which 10,000 have been procured from ICMR, and the rest are from a company that manufactures these kits in Manesar,” he said.

“When ICMR gives its clearance for the use of rapid test kits, we will start testing everyone with flu-like symptoms,” Arora said.

Also read: At Haryana epicentre Nuh, officials fighting virus with help from Muslim priests, panchayats

State of Covid-19 in Haryana

Haryana has so far reported 250 Covid-19 cases and two deaths, and this number does not include the 14 Italian nationals who tested positive for the infection in Gurugram.

Four fresh cases each from Gurugram and Sonepat and one from Ambala were reported Wednesday.

The total number of people tested for the coronavirus in the state is now over 15,500, putting it near the top of the list of states that have ramped up testing.

The number of labs conducting these tests has increased from two to seven in the last two weeks. These are PGIMS, Rohtak (capacity 180 samples per day); BPS Khanpur Kalan (120 samples per day); ESIC Medical College, Faridabad (100 samples per day); Kalpana Chawla Medical College, Karnal (120 samples per day); NRCE, Hisar (25 samples per day); PGIMER, Chandigarh (50 samples per day); and CSIR, Mohali (50 samples per day).

Another five private labs in Gurugram have been given the nod for Covid-19 testing.

Also read: ICMR advises ‘pool testing’ in low-infection areas to increase number of Covid-19 tests

Pooled sample testing

Arora said testing of pooled samples has begun, which will enhance capacities substantially. “We are not pooling more than three samples,” he said.

“We are now using the information gathered through the Aarogya Setu mobile app for monitoring people with flu-like symptoms. The app asks the user to self-declare his or her symptoms,” he informed.

“There is a dedicated officer and his team who are monitoring the app users. Initially, a lot of people downloaded the app and thought it was like a game, but soon realised the significance of the information. Those who register symptoms in the app are contacted and monitored, and if required, will also be sampled,” said Arora.

More than 29.95 lakh persons have already downloaded the app in Haryana, he added.

Also read: Haryana doubles salaries of healthcare officials and workers fighting Covid-19

Helping those with other health issues

Arora said in order to provide health facilities to those suffering from other problems, more than 400 mobile health teams are functional.

“These mobile health check-up buses also report any severe respiratory disorder, as also flu-like symptoms in the people they check every day,” he said.

He added that apart from the people who were showing flu-like symptoms, the government has decided to also start sampling those working in high-risk conditions. These include doctors, nurses, other hospital staff, sanitation workers and policemen.

The state has already carried out sampling and testing of the susceptible population in containment zones in various districts, including Nuh, Palwal, Sonepat, Karnal, Faridabad, Bhiwani, Ambala and Gurugram.

Also read: Chewing gum ban good but Haryana’s hookah culture can be real Covid-19 culprit


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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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