Updated: April 19, 2020 1:10:37 pm
At least four states, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, have issued advisories to medical shops and pharmacies to note down name, address and phone numbers of anyone purchasing medicines for fever, cold and cough.
Seeking a daily list, the Andhra and Telangana governments said authorities will subsequently trace the people on it and get suspected coronavirus cases tested.
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There is apprehension that a number of people are purchasing drugs like paracetamol to suppress coronavirus-like symptoms, to avoid going for COVID-19 testing, being put in 14-day quarantine, or facing social stigma attached to the disease. Officials in Telangana said they had found several cases of people who had self-medicated forfever and cold and later tested positive for coronavirus.
In a memo on Friday, the Municipal Administration and Urban Development Department of Telangana told all municipal commissioners and additional collectors, “You are requested to convene a meeting with medical shops owners’ and pharmacists’ associations urgently and instruct them to necessarily take phone numbers and contact addresses of people who are coming to buy these medicines… The shopkeepers should also tell the customers that getting themselves tested is for their benefit.”
An official said, “It is important that we follow up on cases of people with fever and other such symptoms similar to the virus.”
Andhra Pradesh has also set up a COVID-19 control room, manned by two doctors, to take calls from people who may have symptoms but are hesitant to go for tests.
In Pune, police have ordered all medical shops to maintain similar records, especially of customers coming without a doctor’s prescription for cough, fever, sneezing and breathing ailments. These lists have to be submitted via WhatsApp by 8 pm daily, with any violation to attract action.
Joint Commissioner of Pune City Police Ravindra Shisave issued orders in this regard based on directives of Maharashtra’s public health department. The orders also urge medical shops to guide customers with symptoms similar to COVID-19 to PMC-run flu clinics.
The Bihar Health Department has asked chemist shops to submit records of such customers periodically to local health officials.
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