Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel, deputed as frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19 across India, will be administered Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as prophylaxis under strict medical supervision.
In a letter addressed to Principal Chief Security Commissioners (PCSCs) of all zones, Director General (DG) of RPF, Arun Kumar, said the Ministry of Railway had taken up the issue of the use of HCQ. “It has now been decided that RPF/RPSF personnel in the frontline fight against Covid-19 may be prescribed HCQ as prophylaxis against corona(virus) infection,” the letter stated. It added the drug would be done only with the informed consent of the personnel.
In the letter, RPF DG has further advised that the personnel using HCQ will have to approach medical practitioners if they develop any other symptoms, apart from those of Covid-19.
The decision to use HCQ as a prophylactic was taken after a joint monitoring committee under the chairmanship of Director General of Health Services (DGHS) reviewed its use for expanding it to healthcare and other frontline workers deployed in Covid-19 and non-Covid work.
The RPF has been deployed for security inside trains and also entrusted with screening passengers at railway stations along with distributing food among the migrants and the destitute. So far, 250 RPF personnel across India have been tested positive for the coronavirus, while 700 others have been put on quarantine. There are 75,000 RPF and 20,000 Railway Protection Special Force personnel.
An official from the RPF, requesting anonymity, said, “We are awaiting further guidelines on how to go about it. But considering that there has to be informed consent under medical supervision, the RPF personnel will be encouraged to approach the railway health units.”
In Mumbai, RPF personnel will be asked to report to railway hospitals for consultation with physicians and only those found to be medically fit will be allowed to go ahead with it. “There will be no blanket approval for it. It will vary on case to case basis,” said another RPF official.
Until now, RPF personnel were administered two homeopathy medicines: Arsenicum album 30 and Camphora 1 m. They were also asked to follow the advice of the AYUSH Ministry and include a diet rich in vitamin C for improving immunity.
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