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Mamata slams Centre after allegations of non-cooperation




File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata |
File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata | PTI

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Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday slammed the Centre for sending teams to look into West Bengal’s preparedness for tackling the COVID-19 outbreak and alleged that faulty testing kits were dispatched to the state.

Banerjee’s comments came a day after a war of words broke out between the West Bengal and the Union governments over the arrival of two central teams in the state to assess the coronavirus situation.

“Canards are being spread every day that only a few are getting tested in Bengal for COVID-19. This is absolutely false. Faulty kits were sent to Bengal which have now been withdrawn. We didn’t even get adequate testing kits,” she told a press conference.

The CM said all rapid testing kits sent to West Bengal have been withdrawn by the Union Health Ministry, while the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) nodal agency in the state, mailed to the state government on April 21 asking it not to use the BGI RT-PCR kits.

There are three types of kits, rapid testing, BGI RT-PCR and antigen, she said adding that the first two types have been withdrawn by the Centre and antigen kits are not available in Bengal hospitals.

Banerjee said there should not be any delay in testing a COVID-19 patient as per the ICMR recommendations, but stressed that it is difficult to treat coronavirus-affected people without adequate testing kits.

She also alleged that the Centre did not provide to the state adequate number of swab kits required to test whether a case is positive or not.

The state is using swab kits procured by it, the chief minister said, adding that she did not understand the central agencies’ plans to fight the pandemic.

Banerjee said some people are levelling charges that the state government is not providing adequate PPEs to health workers but the Centre gave it only 7,000 PPE kits. The state government, meanwhile, distributed 4,19,000 PPE kits procured by it, she.

“Every day they (Centre) are telling us what to do and what not to do, sending people to look into the law and order situation and our preparedness against coronavirus. They are sending us strongly worded letters. We can also send them letters. But that’s not the point,” she said.

Meanwhile, senior Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee said, “ICMR sends us faulty kits, recommends not to use remaining kits & your minions claim IMCTs are not getting enough support. With no ICMR supplied kits for testing in WB, what are IMCTs doing? Is a media spectacle worth more than the lives of people from Bengal? #BengaliLivesMatter.”

The central team visiting West Bengal to assess the COVID-19 situation has alleged non-cooperation from the state government.

Also read: 3 Bengal districts tagged hotspot by Modi govt ‘haven’t reported Covid-19 cases in a week’


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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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