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Covid test rider to meet officials backfires

District magistrate withdraws negative-report condition
Murmurs were that the directive did not go down well with the top brass of the Bengal government

Anshuman Phadikar   |   Tamluk(EastMidnapore)   |   Published 17.08.20, 01:22 AM

The West Midnapore district magistrate issued an order on Friday asking all visitors to secure Covid-19 negative reports before they met government officials, causing embarrassment to Nabanna as senior officials felt the directive would create panic among people and put unnecessary pressure on testing centres.

Amid murmurs that the directive did not go down well with the top brass of the Bengal government, district magistrate Rashmi Kamal told The Telegraph on Sunday evening that “the order is being withdrawn”.

Later in the evening, the notification was withdrawn and a fresh order asking people to go for tests if they developed symptoms was issued.

The order issued on August 14 by the district magistrate’s office had pointed out that officers at district and block levels were getting infected and that’s why visitors were supposed to follow certain measures before meeting the officials.

“If there is no symptom, you must undergo Covid-19 rapid Antigen test... If you have symptoms, you should go for RTPCR tests,” the order reads.

While mentioning the names of the hospitals where such tests were being conducted, the DM had written that the visitors should have a negative report which would be valid for 10 days from the date of test.

“If we officers refuse to meet visitors without a Covid negative report, people would panic. Furthermore, people come to us with their problems and if we don’t meet them during this crisis, where will they go?,” said a senior official.

A top bureaucrat said there was no central instruction in this regard as such an order could put unnecessary pressure on the testing facilities.

Sources said officers at the block levels, particularly BDOs, had put pressure on the DM to issue such an order. 

“Three BDOs and about 100 government employees have already been afflicted by Covid-19 and the district magistrate had issued the order keeping in mind the spread of the disease among the government officers,” said a source.

Senior government officers at Nabanna said demanding a Covid-19 negative certificate couldn’t be a solution to deal with the problem at a time the chief minister herself was telling people not to panic.

“People in rural areas would meet officers with their problem. If people cannot meet the BDOs, how can they submit their claims like they did after Amphan. The officers have to initiate safety measures to keep themselves safe,” said an official.

After the order had been withdrawn, some BDOs were unhappy with the decision saying it would leave them in trouble as leaders of political parties often come to meet them with a group of people.

Senior officers said the BDOs could issue orders to ensure that he or she would meet only one person at a time.

“They can put in place a system of health screening of visitors like temperature check. They can make it clear that they won’t meet anybody without a mask. But demanding a negative certificate is too much,” said an official.

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