NEW DELHI: A 62-year-old doctor, who had tested positive for COVID-19, died in Indore on Thursday, as authorities in many parts of the country put medical professionals under quarantine after they tested positive for the virus and in some cases as a preventive measure given their vulnerability to catch the fast-spreading infection.
Though there is no separate figures to show how many medical professionals have been afflicted or quarantined in India so far, these isolation measures by state authorities were taken for the frontline warriors as the nationwide tally of conformed cases of COVID-19 neared 6,500 and the death toll inched towards 200 mark.
Working in dire conditions, the medical professionals, who have also been subjected to sporadic assaults in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, came for a huge praise from several leaders for their contribution with Union minister Jitendra Singh lauding them as "corona warriors" for putting all efforts to ensure the safety of people.
Concerned over incidents of assaults against doctors, Indian Medical Association (IMA) demanded a law to deal with such crimes while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned of strict action against those misbehaving with healthcare personnel, a day after two women resident doctors of Safdarjung Hospital were assaulted following rumours that they are "spreading COVID-19".
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"It's a feeling of disgust. Nothing can justify the attacks on medical professionals who are battling the deadly disease as frontline warrirors. The IMA has a policy of zero tolerance to violence, and especially at this time it makes me wonder who am I fighting as a doctor -- the tiny lot of people who are attacking and beating with the majority being silent or the formidable COVID-19," IMA president Ranjan Sharma told PTI.
"It is high time for an ordinance to clear a Central law to check assaults on doctors and other medical professionals. I again appeal with folded hands that please don't shatter our morale with such incidents," Sharma said.
National Commission for Women has also sought a detailed action taken report from the Delhi Police in the alleged assault of the two doctors.
According to Safdarjung Resident Doctors' Association (RDA) president Dr Manish, two women resident doctors of the hospital were allegedly assaulted on Wednesday by a 42-year-old man who accused them of "spreading" the novel coronavirus in the area when they had stepped out of their house to buy fruits.
On the death of the Indore doctor, city chief medical and health officer Praveen Jadia, said the victim, who was a general physician, died at a private hospital.
"It appears that he had come in contact with a coronavirus patient during treatment. We are trying to trace the source of the infection," he said.
This is the first case of a doctor succumbing to the novel coronavirus in the country.
However, it was not immediately clear that whether the doctor got the infection while treating patients or from some other source.
Meawhile, a top official and a health worker at a state-run hospital in Howrah district West Bengal tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, officials at the state health department said.
Both of them have been shifted to MR Bangur Hospital in south Kolkata, one of the four facilities earmarked in the city for treatment of COVID-19 patients, they said.
"The medical superintendent-cum-vice principal (MSVP) of the Howrah district hospital was under home quarantine since Monday, as he had developed symptoms of coronavirus infection. After his swab tested positive this morning he was taken to MR Bangur Hospital," an official said.
Some doctors at the Howrah hospital have been placed under quarantine, and the process of identifying all those who came in contact with the MSVP and the medical staff member was underway, he said.
According to the official, the MSVP had come in contact with a COVID-19 patient from Salkia in the district, who died due to the disease on March 30.
Authorities in many other parts, including Jaipur and Agartala, have also put doctors and other medical professionals under quarantine.
The government hospital in Jaipur switches isolation ward staff, placing those who have put in some time there into quarantine as a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan government has roped in more than 6,000 AYUSH doctors and compounders to assist the medical staff engaged in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
Announcing the decision, Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma said the state medical department has acquired the services of 6,624 AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) doctors and compounders to assist the medical teams working in the field, quarantine and isolation centers and other work.
"This will strengthen efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus," he added.