Doctors to Hemant: Extend lockdown
Extending the lockdown is the only way to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus in Jharkhand where four persons have tested positive so far, the medical fraternity told chief minister Hemant Soren on Wednesday.
Hemant had called an emergency meeting to seek suggestions from Indian Medical Association (IMA) members, Ranchi-based doctors and representatives of city hospitals to draw up an action plan to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I have called you here because the situation is not good in Jharkhand,” the chief minister said during the two-hour meeting at the Project Building, according to a participant. “The actual problem and challenges will start mounting once the lockdown period is over. As many as seven lakh labourers of Jharkhand are caught in different states where the cases of novel coronavirus are very high.”
Members of the state-wing of the IMA advised the government to form a task force.
“We lack proper health infrastructure and we are not in a position to tackle a mass explosion of patients if it happens,” Dr Pradeep Kumar Singh, secretary of the state IMA, said at the meeting. “What we can do at this moment is to focus on prevention including lockdown and social isolation.” Withdrawing the lockdown on April 14, Dr Singh said, “will be disastrous”.
Senior doctors and health officials pointed out that there were only around 150 functional ventilators at hospitals in the state, including four at RIMS, Ranchi. However, only one of the four ventilators at RIMS is functional because technicians for the remaining three are on leave. “Just because we have been able to detect only four cases doesn’t mean there are no other cases,” a doctor who was part of the meeting told The Telegraph.
“What if the number of cases rises and all 150 ventilators are occupied? Do we have any action plan? There is a shortage of doctors. As per the guidelines doctors and health staff treating and screening confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases have to undergo a mandatory quarantine period. Do we have sufficient numbers of doctors and health staff to replace those who would be under quarantine?
“The government should recruit doctors on priority,” the physician added.
Others pointed out the lack of rapid antibody test kits, which are more effective than mere thermal screening.
“Hospitals are the hotspots of the virus and doctors and staff have to be checked frequently. But for that we don’t have antibody testing kits. The government should look into these issues,” Dr B.P. Kashyap, treasurer of the state IMA, said at the meeting.
State health secretary Nitin Madan Kulkarni, who was present at the meeting, said the state government has ordered import of the antibody testing kits from China after the Indian Council of Medical Research approved those kits.
The chief minister is set to hold a review meeting on April 13 to discuss whether to continue or to withdraw the lockdown.