NEW DELHI: Medical staff of state- and centrally-run hospitals in Delhi have decided to hold a symbolic protest on Friday to protest against the government’s decision to withdraw hotel quarantine facility and COVID testing of healthcare workers. They will wear a black ribbon at work, the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA) decided.
As per a Central government order of May 15, quarantine of healthcare workers serving in COVID areas is no longer mandatory. FORDA president Dr Shivaji Dev Barman said despite writing to the Union Health Ministry to reconsider the decision, there had been no response from the authorities.
The Delhi government followed suit and decided to withdraw the special quarantine facilities and hospitals got orders on May 18. Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, whose doctors were provided quarantine accommodations at Hotel Lalit, issued an order on May 20 which stated, “Regular quarantine of healthcare workers after performing duty in Covid-19 areas is not warranted. Hence, all categories of staff on quarantine are directed to vacate the hospital provided accommodations in hotels/dharamshalas latest by 12 noon by May 21.”The government had on March 29 said doctors treating coronavirus patients at LNJP and GBP hospitals would be accommodated at a private hotel on its expense.
In response to the LNJP directive, the resident doctors association (RDA) of the hospital wrote to the administration stating that the order was “inhuman” and came at a short notice. “It blatantly undermines the persistent effort put in by the corona warriors who provide treatment at the largest Covid-19 facility of Delhi government,” the letter said and added that the order “has further worsened the mental state of doctors on Covid-19 duty” who are already stressed due to huge load of severely ill corona patients.
After the protest, the order has been “put in abeyance” for a week, but the RDA has decided to go ahead with the protest. “Abeyance doesn’t mean the guidelines have changed. The Delhi government will not give quarantine to future posted doctors. We are against the guidelines,” said Dr Parv Mittal, president, LNJP RDA.
The Safdarjung hospital has also issued an order stating that the hospital will provide the facility of hotel quarantine for its healthcare workers till five days after Covid duty and the rest nine days of quarantine should be completed at home. Salaries will be deducted for overstaying in the hotel, it adds. “This order came today (Thursday). It will be implemented from May 23 on the new batch of Covid workers,” said an RDA member.
The RDA of Maulana Azad Medical College and associated hospitals wrote to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan against Delhi government’s order for vacating the quarantine facilities.In the letter, the RDA cited the government order stating that doctors residing in Hotel Lalit have to vacate the rooms. “This order is inhuman and undermines the persistent effort put in by the corona warriors providing treatment at the largest Covid facility of Delhi government,” the association said.