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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Delhi’s protocols on treatment can be uncoordinated and unscientific

This is a case of zero coordination, not updating the guidelines based on the latest science and continuing with three-months-old information on the part of the Delhi government.

coronavirus india, india healthcare coronavirus cases, india healthcare sector, covid 19 india lockdown, coronavirus news Medics attend to a suspected COVID-19 patient at a government hospital in New Delhi (Express Photo By Amit Mehra)

It was a Sunday morning. I was musing, six days after self-quarantining in my flat in south Delhi, where I have been living alone having tested positive for COVID. The test was done by me to avoid getting quarantined in Srinagar, where I had to go to my home after a break of three months. I have been asymptomatic.

There was a barrage of phone calls from representatives of the Delhi government asking me if I knew I was corona-positive. My answer was, of course, I did. After spending Rs 4,500 from my pocket and being a doctor, it would have been stupid of me if I did not know my test results.

The second set of phone calls came an hour later and informed me that I needed to shift to a COVID hospital and an ambulance was coming to fetch me. I told the callers that I was not at my official residence as mentioned in my particulars and am self-quarantining at another place. They did not ask the address of the place of my quarantine. They were not interested in listening to me and threatened me, saying that they are going to get the police constable in case I do not come. I asked them to tell me which hospital they were planning to take me. The answer was they will find out. I told them that my information was most COVID hospitals in Delhi were unable even to admit patients who needed oxygen and closer observation.

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In the last three days, I have been unable to get my cardiac patients with symptoms and COVID-positive results admitted in my own place of work, in addition to the other hospitals where I know the management. I requested them to give me the number of a doctor from the Delhi government COVID nodal centre. This request was finally granted, although reluctantly.

I spoke to the doctor and narrated my story of being asymptomatic, fully aware of the disease and in self-quarantine for six days. As per AIIMS guidelines, a person may discontinue isolation after seven days of a positive report. Seven days is the time period of isolation needed, according to the scientific grounds established by viral replication studies.

Both logic and science did not affect the person calling me and she continued to repeat that these were orders and I had to comply. I requested her to get me through to any COVID hospital front desk which will tell me that I would be given an isolation bed before I pack up and go on a Delhi darshan in their ambulance. Nothing worked. The ambulance arrived at my designated home, which I had left six days ago. My wife informed them that I was not there. All the neighbours came out and saw a spectacle and took pictures of PPE-wearing staff. Meanwhile, I managed to get through to some senior and sensible persons of the central government who understood the issue and directed the nodal officer not to chase the goose.

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This is a case of zero coordination, not updating the guidelines based on the latest science and continuing with three-months-old information on the part of the Delhi government. I can understand the stress because the curve is steepening. However, while the chief minister and health minister are advising no testing of asymptomatic persons and home quarantine for asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic persons, his executors are doing just the opposite. Who will bell the cat?

This article first appeared in the print edition on June 9, 2020 under the title ‘A Covid Runaround’

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The writer is a cardiologist, former president of the Cardiological Society of India and SAARC Cardiac Society, and a Padma Shri

First published on: 09-06-2020 at 03:55:44 am
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