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MP: Govt Asks Doctors Under Quarantine in Indore to Return to Work

The containment of COVID-19 in the state appears to have taken a backseat to political ambitions.

Indore: With health services in Indore, Madhya Pradesh’s commercial capital, already fragile, the state government’s orders to doctors under quarantine to resume duties highlights the deepening gulf between those working to stem the spread of COVID-19 and the government.

The Madhya Pradesh health commissioner has issued a letter to 12 doctors asking them to resume duties or be prepared to face the consequences.

MP govt’s order to Indo… by The Wire on Scribd

In the list of 12 doctors, two of them – Dr Dipil Hedau and Dr Rajendra Ahirwar – have gone into quarantine.

Madhya Pradesh has reported the highest number of COVID-19 deaths after Maharashtra.

“If the government has asked for doctors in quarantine to come back to work, it is a violation COVID-19 protocol for doctors, health workers and paramedical staff members,” says Amulya Nidhi, a health activist with the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.

COVID-19 has hit Indore hard, and 52 people have lost their lives to the disease in the district. Of the 1,407 positive cases reported from the state, 897 were in this district alone.

Political changes

In the early stages of the novel coronavirus’s spread in India, till early March, Madhya Pradesh was not on the list of states affected by the pandemic.

But political turmoil in the first week of March appears to have had an adverse impact on containment measures. This was when other states were gearing up to implement strategies to fight the spread.

At this crucial time, Madhya Pradesh health minister Tulsi Silawat, a resident of Indore, chose to stay in Bengaluru with 21 other rebel MLAs to pull down the Congress government, after Jyotiraditya Scindia’s dramatic switch from the Congress to the BJP.

A day after the BJP toppled the Congress government, and Shivraj Singh Chouhan became the chief minister for the fourth time on March 23, the state was placed under lockdown along with the rest of the country for 21 days – but without a health minister.

Also read: Madhya Pradesh: A Month After He Took Oath, Shivraj Singh Chouhan Forms 5-Member Cabinet

It appears that the authorities prioritised their political concerns over the risk of the virus spreading.

Amidst the lockdown, the state government replaced the Indore collector and police chief. The district wasn’t ready for these sudden change, given the scale of the looming pandemic.

“With the change of administration, and with the imposition of a curfew-like situation, suddenly routine movement within Indore and other emergency requirements and movements came to standstill. Food packets reserved for the needy also failed to get delivered in several places,” claimed Vineet Tiwari, a social worker and researcher who lives in Indore.

Coronavirus grips Malwa region

Amidst the alarming situation in Indore, other districts in the Malwa region have also seen a worrying increase in the number of people with COVID-19.

Ujjain, Dewas, Khargone and Mandsaur districts of the Malwa region have reported six, five, four and one death(s) respectively on account of COVID-19. Notably, of the six hotspot districts of the state, three – Indore, Ujjain and Khargone – are from Malwa.

In its preparedness to contain the spread of coronavirus, the state government is going to increase testing capacity from 2,000 to 2,500 by next week.

Currently, around 2,000 COVID-19 tests are being conducted daily in 11 labs across the state. A testing lab has started in Rewa and soon, a coronavirus testing lab will be operational at R.D. Gardi Medical College, Ujjain. Two more testing labs are also in the pipeline. By next week, the state’s testing capacity will be 2,500 tests per day. Apart from this, 1,197 samples have been sent from the state to a Delhi lab for testing, said additional chief secretary, health Mohammad Suleman.