Among the unexpected fallout of the Faridabad administration’s decision to seal the district’s border from Wednesday was the government-run laboratory at the ESIC Medical College and Hospital in Faridabad — a designated COVID-19 hospital and one of seven laboratories involved in testing for the virus in Haryana.
With several of its staff living in districts outside Faridabad being turned away or delayed at the border, officials fear testing will suffer in the coming days. “COVID-19 testing will be most affected if they stop them from entering as we are the only government hospital in Faridabad where these tests are being done,” said Dr A K Pandey, Registrar, Academic.
As per officials, at least eight people from the microbiology department, which undertakes the tests, live outside Faridabad. “So far, they were able to travel using their IDs. Now, we have been told to make arrangements for their stay. However, some of the staff have constraints such as young children or dependent parents,” said Dr Pandey.
In the latter category is Dr Charu Jain, Assistant Professor, Microbiology, who travels from East Delhi to work each day, leaving her seven-month-old baby with her mother-in-law. On Wednesday, however, she was delayed by an hour at the border.
“Yesterday, I was given a pass by the institute but police personnel at Badarpur border refused to let me through. We finally came through another border, where police said I may not be allowed to leave in the evening. This is a problem for me. I cannot stay here even if I am given accommodation as I cannot bring my baby here,” said Dr Jain. She said many of her colleagues, including the department head, were turned away at the border.
“We process almost 150 samples daily but we started late today. In addition, a lot of the staff have not come; we are doing such risky work while being understaffed, leaving scope for error… We cannot work from home and there is no one trained enough to do this job…,” she said.
Dr Pandey said testing is critical to contain the spread of coronavirus: “The district administration should favour those providing essential services, especially testing; if you stop testing, the whole purpose of these measures will be negated.”
Faridabad Deputy Commissioner Yashpal, however, said a solution is being worked out: “COVID-19 hospitals are already in the special exemption category. When a new plan is introduced, some issues do emerge, but I have spoken to the dean and we have provided some space for staff to stay and made arrangements for their food and other needs… We will also issue special passes to those who need to travel daily. Such passes are also being issued to others exempt from the sealing, such as those involved in transporting essential items.”
Wednesday saw complete chaos at the Badarpur border as several people were turned away. Police personnel conducted temperature checks of each person and noted down their details before allowing them entry.
Yashpal said the sealing would be smoother in the coming days: “This was the first day; some issues were expected… I believe regulation will become easier.” The district has 50 cases, of which 41 have recovered.
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