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MP goes on PR overdrive, discharges 44 Covid patients with national anthem, rose petals

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Rose petals are showered as the 44 patients discharged Wednesday evening set off from Bhopal’s Chirayu Medical College and Hospital Wednesday evening | Angana Chakrabarti | ThePrint
Rose petals are showered as the 44 patients discharged Wednesday evening set off from Bhopal’s Chirayu Medical College and Hospital Wednesday evening | Angana Chakrabarti | ThePrint


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Bhopal: A shower of rose petals, a police band and a gaggle of reporters — a hearty welcome awaited 44 recovered Covid-19 patients who were discharged from Bhopal’s Chirayu Medical College and Hospital Wednesday evening. 

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh pulled out all the stops to “celebrate” the patients’ recovery. 

The chief minister himself tuned in via video conferencing and spoke to eight of the patients and two doctors, an interaction broadcast on a projector outside the hospital’s Covid-19 facility. 

“Tell everyone that it’s possible to win the war against corona,” he told one of the patients. 

Another 28 patients discharged by Chirayu Medical College and Hospital Saturday had reportedly received a water-cannon greeting.

The ceremony for the patients Wednesday came as the Chouhan government courts criticism for allegedly favouring private facilities over government hospitals as the hubs of its Covid-19 response. Most of the 106 Covid-19 patients linked to the state’s Directorate of Health Services (DHS), which has emerged as a hotspot of infection, were admitted to private hospitals despite Bhopal also having an AIIMS branch. 

The Chief Medical Officer of Bhopal, Prabhakar Tiwari, has, however, rubbished the criticism.

“It’s not all in the private (hospitals). If you see the list of facilities that we have identified, there is AIIMS (Bhopal), Hamidia, Chirayu, Bansal — two private and two government. We are right now running the facility at AIIMS and Chirayu… Even 50 per cent of these facilities haven’t been utilised,” he told ThePrint.


Also Read: Shivraj finally picks ministers — top BJP man, 2 Scindia loyalists among 5 to aid Covid fight


A celebration

The Covid-19 facility at Chirayu Medical College and Hospital has been treating 300 patients, making it one of the state’s nerve centres for treatment amid the pandemic. 

When ThePrint arrived at the Covid-19 facility Wednesday, around 20 reporters were already gathered outside — a rare crowd amid the ongoing lockdown. As a drone flew by with a low buzz, an official of the Bhopal Municipal Corporation said it had been deployed to film the entire event. 

Circles had been drawn on the ground for the patients, to ensure physical distancing guidelines were followed when they stepped out. Before the patients came out, hospital owner Dr Ajay Goenka had informed reporters that the people being discharged included police personnel and their families. 

“From the beginning itself, you are able to figure out the direction in which this is going… If early hypoxia (when the body or a part of the body is unable to get adequate oxygen) is treated, then it isn’t able to go to that gravity,” he said. “None of my patients has gone to the ICU or needed ventilator support. By giving 6-8 litres of oxygen, I have been successful,” he added. 

As he spoke to the media, three police personnel stood in front of the doctor, each with a tricolour in hand. A short while later, five medical personnel in personal protective equipment (PPE) emerged from the facility. Behind them, walking in a file, were the 44 patients. They were greeted with a round of applause.  

Policemen hold flags as the ceremony gets underway | Angana Chakrabarti | ThePrint
Policemen hold flags as the ceremony gets underway | Angana Chakrabarti | ThePrint

While a few lugged small bags, the rest just carried water bottles. They came and stood inside the circles as a few police personnel broke out into slogans of “Bharat Mata ki jai (glory to Mother India)”. Additional superintendent of police Dinesh Kaushal then garlanded many of the patients. 

Patients stand outside the hospital, in line with social distancing norms | Angana Chakrabarti | ThePrint
Patients stand outside the hospital, in line with social distancing norms | Angana Chakrabarti | ThePrint

Also Read: Jabalpur is a success story in the Covid mess of Madhya Pradesh


Out and about

A video call with the chief minister ensued through a laptop placed at the site. Speaking to Chouhan, one of the patients, sub-inspector Girish Tripathi, said, “I am completely OK now — I tested positive on 4 April after doing duty in Jahangirabad (a hotspot). I had been admitted for the past 15 days. There were 5-year-old, 8-year-old children with me. But, today, everyone has been treated and are being discharged.” 

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan interacts with the patients | Angana Chakrabarti | ThePrint
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan interacts with the patients | Angana Chakrabarti | ThePrint

When the CM asked him if he had been taken care of properly at the hospital, Tripathi nodded vehemently and said yes. 

The hand-drawn circles, however, proved unsuccessful in keeping the crowd at a distance as reporters wove through the patients, asking them questions. 

“We would get up in the morning and be given pills — then we would get breakfast,” said Mohammed Tariq, a computer operator in the Covid-19 control room that had been set up at the DHS, told ThePrint.

Tariq was all praise for the treatment they received at the hospital. “After breakfast, they (hospital staff) would give us a tablet and then, around 2, they would give us food. We got snacks around 5… There was no problem here. We were treated well,” he said.

The event concluded with everyone singing the national anthem, which was followed by an array of patriotic songs, including ‘Vande Mataram’, from the police band. 

When the treated patients departed the facility in a bus, the government and police officials present tossed a clutch of rose petals to send them off.


Also Read: CM Shivraj Chouhan says Tablighi Jamaat members behind ‘rapid rise’ in MP’s Covid-19 cases


 

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

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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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