A junior doctor from the Osmania Medical College in Hyderabad, who is presently undergoing treatment along with many of his fellows for Covid-19 at the state-run Gandhi general hospital, has written a letter to the Telangana Governor Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan seeking her intervention regarding postponement of the final year exams for PGs scheduled to be held between June 20 and 29.
“I personally faced and experienced how difficult it is to be isolated in this critical situation. To prepare for exams in such an atmosphere is simply not possible. Due to this mental agony, I am not able to concentrate to study for the exams. I fear that I may not perform well in the exams and risk losing an academic year because of an unfortunate incident. It is simply not possible to face everything simultaneously: the health problem, studies, the exam anxiety, and the social stigma,” the 29-year-old wrote in his letter.
The Governor, a medical doctor by profession, is also the chancellor of the Kaloji Narayana Rao University of Health Sciences (KNRUHS) that conducts the exams. The junior doctor, whose name is withheld on request, said he has been undergoing treatment since June 1 at the Gandhi hospital. The doctor, who is a final year postgraduate student, feels that the Governor being a medical doctor herself could understand the situation better. However, a response to his email is still awaited.
The postgraduate is recovering fast and set to be discharged in the coming days and shifted to home quarantine. “To be honest about my personal situation – there is no such facility in my home to maintain any sort of quarantine with the family members. Moreover, the two weeks of home quarantine means that I will not be able to attend the first 2 exams. If I go home there is a high risk for my parents and family members to get infected with the virus through me,” said the junior doctor, stressing that various international studies suggest that Covid-19 positive patients remain infectious even after 30-40 days.
He further added: “I strongly feel that this pandemic situation is not the right time to conduct exams. Osmania Medical College has now become a hotspot for Covid-19; there is a high risk to all the postgraduates (and their family members including infants and elders with co-morbidities in their families) who are going to write exams.”
When contacted over the phone, the junior doctor said the final year exams would decide the fate of his career for which doctors like him have already sacrificed eight to 10 years.
Asked how he contracted the disease, the doctor says a friend and former MBBS batchmate had visited him at the hostel of Osmania Medical College. “He had come to Hyderabad for a medical check-up and tested positive for Covid. I was preparing for the exams staying in the hostel. After him, I tested positive with symptoms,” added the doctor who hails from Mahabubnagar and was among the first from OMC to test positive for Covid.
HRDA approaches Telangana High Court with PIL
The President of Healthcare Reforms Doctors’ Association (HRDA) Dr K. Mahesh Kumar told indianexpress.com that around 1,400 postgraduates from across the state are going to appear for their final exams between June 20 and 29.
According to him, the government is unnecessarily rushing to conduct the exams and that the exams could wait until the pandemic is over. “The 1,400 PGs awaiting their exams are a very important workforce. They are very well experienced and they can be utilised as senior residents to address the pandemic at the moment. As they are currently preparing for the exams, they are not being utilised,” Dr. Kumar added.
The HRDA has filed a writ petition (PIL) before the Telangana High Court on June 12 seeking suspension of exam notifications issued by the KNRUHS, dated May 28, and also to direct the state to utilise the services of final year PG students by continuing them as Senior Residents.
The counsel for the petitioner informed the court that Osmania Medical College hostel is presently a hotspot. “Around 10 PG students, including interns, were infected on May 30. Other PGs are also infected. Many of the doctors and exam going PG have been exposed. Though screening was done and the results came negative, it is submitted that the incubation period for Covid-19 is 28 days,” they said.
Further, the petition reiterated that “out of the 1,405 doctors/PG final year students set to take the exams as per the impugned notification, 663 are from colleges located within GHMC area and Rangareddy district.”
In the petition, a copy of which is with indianexpress.com, the counsel also informed the court that due to the Covid-19 situation, neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have postponed the final year examination for Post Graduate Medical/Dental students and are utilising their valuable services by continuing them as Senior
The petitioner argued that the state cannot be permitted to take any action, which would jeopardise the health, life and rights of doctors. “The lives of the doctors/exam going PG students cannot be jeopardised, because Coronavirus is only on the increase in the GHMC area and Rangareddy district. There is no indication that the cases are going to decrease in its magnitude and amplitude, and is going to loosen its deadly grip on the people.”
As per the medical bulletin issued by the Directorate of Public Health and Family Welfare on June 12, there are 4,484 positive cases of Covid-19 in the state, of which 2032 are currently active and undergoing treatment. The number of those who succumbed to the infection stands at 174.
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