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'Doctors on leave, undertrained paramedics': Panel exposes lacunae in healthcare service in Agra

The panel has reasoned slackness at different levels in the functioning of Agra Medical College to be one of the main reasons for the hike in the number of infections.

Published: 24th April 2020 05:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th April 2020 06:36 PM   |  A+A-

Lockdown, taj mahal, coronavirus

A man feeds birds on the banks of River Yamuna during a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus near the historic Taj Mahal in Agra. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

LUCKNOW: The two-member expert committee, set up to review the situation arising out of coronavirus infection spread in Agra, where the number of infliction – 336 – has been the highest in the state, has attributed the unprecedented spike in the number of cases due to the complacency of the district officials. The panel, in its report, has raised fingers on the working of district administration and the health department.

The committee, comprising senior faculty members of KGMU, Dr. Surya Kant, head of the respiratory medicine department, and Dr. Vivek Kumar, head, medicine department, has produced a 310-pages report after studying the Agra model and tracing the reasons for the rise in the number of inflictions. Dr. Surya Kant is also a member of a task force of KGMU and state trainer for COVID-19. The panel has submitted the report to the state government.

In the report, the panel has reasoned slackness at different levels in the functioning of Agra Medical College (Sarojini Naidu Medical College) to be one of the main reasons for the hike in the number of infections. Here, many doctors have been on leave despite the state government's directives to cancel all leaves under the Epidemic Act.

The panel found that the doctors were availing leave arbitrarily as there was no medical board to sanction leaves to doctors. The committee has recommended the immediate constitution of a medical board at the medical college to scrutinize their leave applications and recall the doctors to resume duty.

Notably, action was taken against the Medicine department head Dr. PK Maheshwari who was suspended for 'staying in a posh hotel in the name of home quarantine'.

The committee has also found that the health care workers deputed to attend COVID-19 patients are neither adequately trained nor are they following the health protocol sincerely nor the norms of social distancing in hospitals. This laxity has led to the infliction of three resident doctors and four para-medical staff of the medical college.

Besides, poor implementation of lockdown in the city, the special audit committee has lack of biosafety level (BSL) three facilities in the health facilities.

The panel had reached Agra’s SN Medical College on April 17 and spoke to the officials. The report has pointed out that when the deadly coronavirus was spreading its tentacles in the district, the appointment of the principal of SN Medical College was caught in a controversy. In fact, Medical College principal Dr. GK Aneja had suddenly moved on leave and went to Delhi on the pretext of treatment on April 7. But he returned to medical college and re-joined on April 9.

The audit report has mentioned that the degradation of the lab at the medical college had been hanging fire for the last three months. Consequently, testing had taken a beating in the district. Samples were being sent to KGMU, Lucknow, for testing and it was a time taking process. The report also claimed that the health officials were casual in isolating the corona positive cases and also in mapping their primary and secondary contacts.

The panel has said in the report that the guidelines of WHO and ICMR were not followed properly. Even active quarantine and passive quarantine protocol was not followed. The report has recommended the COIVD-19 test for street vendors in order to arrest the spread of the virus. Only those vendors should be allowed in open who would test negative. Vendors should carry a 'corona negative' card with them, properly displaying it on their handcarts, says the report.

In Agra, a vegetable seller, who had tested positive for novel coronavirus infection, had passed on the infection to thousands. Even a milkman has also tested positive for the virus risking many lives.

Even those seeking treatment at private hospitals should also be made to test for COVID-19. It may be noted that a private hospital has become a major source for the spread of the virus in Agra as it had performed surgeries and dialysis without conducting COVID-19 tests.

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