Coronavirus in West Bengal: Doctor’s forum approaches state administration to highlight concerns of healthcare providers

Even as the West Bengal government is grappling with COVID-19 cases doubling in a week, the West Bengal Doctor’s Forum has written to state Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha highlighting the concerns of the medical fraternity.

More than 140 healthcare providers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus while two doctors have died. On earlier occasions too, the doctor’s forum had reached out to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The doctor’s forum says there is more testing required while how citing cases having gone up from 744 on 30th April to 1548 on 7th of May. The forum suggests that the cases doubling is a result of testing having gone up from 16,525 persons on 30th April to 32,752 as of 7th May.

“We applaud the state government’s efforts to intensify the number of tests being conducted across the state, but we should not be complacent and should test more widely and extensively. We are numb and horrified at the extreme level of social stigma and discrimination being faced by health care service providers across the state and the recent one was at the institute of child care. Regular, structured and comprehensive medical bulletin has to continue including the number of health care service providers testing positive,” said Dr. Koushik Lahiri, Vice President, West Bengal Doctor’s Forum.

On the other hand, the doctors have also written to Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare in the state over the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) distributing Hydroxycholoroquine (HCQ) to people in various parts of the state, and to people outside the state too.

At present, HCQ is being given by KMC to asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or conformed cases of COVID-19 and asymptomatic household contact of laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“In view of the side-effects including contraindications, the same needs to be prescribed by registered medical practitioners and under regular supervision, pharmaco-vigilence and reporting of adverse effects, if any among the two above mentioned categories only,” reads the letter.

The doctor’s forum says that they are confused by the use of HCQ for people apart from healthcare providers in the state engaged in management of cases with SARS-COVID-19, as per the ICMR guidelines. There have been no changes in the guidelines as yet as per the health department website guidelines section.

Meanwhile, a BJP leader has hit out at the state government over low testing.

“Bengal is lowest in testing. Chief Minister and Chief Secretary all are giving different facts. They are manipulating numbers,” said BJP MP Dilip Ghosh.

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