On Tuesday, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi put out a tweet quoting a doctor from Rohtak Haryana, who had alleged that the hospital did not have proper facilities available for medical staff treating people with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. “I am feeling sad, because this was completely avoidable. We had time to prepare. We should have taken this treat much more seriously, and have been much better prepared,” Gandhi quoted the tweet, which was shared by Dr Kamna Kakkar.
However, since Rahul Gandhi’s tweet went out, several individuals offered to help, but did not receive any response from Dr Kakkar. It was then revealed that the Twitter handle was created a day before, angering people on Twitter.
Alt News founder Pratik Sinha, who was one of the people who retweeted Dr Kakkar’s tweet, admitted to his mistake and later issued a clarification that it was not Dr Kakkar, but her brother who had created the handle.
“I spoke with the sister (Dr Kakkar) and she said that the tweet was sent out without her knowledge, but the issue is genuine,” he tweeted.
However, others weren't so forgiving and several people on Twitter went on to call the doctor a 'fake'.
Meanwhile, a report in the Tribune newspaper on March 10 also highlited the issue of the lack of masks. “Doctors and other employees catering to the heavy rush of patients at the PGIMS OPDs complain that they have not been getting protective masks for several days despite repeated requests made to the authorities concerned,” the report said.
Quoting Dr Dhruva Choudhary, head of the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine (PCCM), the report added that the hospital authorities requisitioned 3.6 lakh masks, but the supply of masks was limited owing to the increased demand.
A few days later, the same newspaper reported that the government also released Rs 4.50 crore for Rohtak-PGIMS today for the purchase of more ventilators and other equipment required at the intensive-care facilities in order to strengthen COVID-19 preparedness.
Another report in Hindustan Times, dated March 23, also highlighted that there were only 40,000 ventilators for the patients. While this number seems normal, given the number of cases that have been reported out of India, PM Modi during his speech on Tuesday cautioned that the number of COVID-19-infected patients was likely to increase if Indians did not strictly adhere to a lockdown. While speaking to that daily Dr Choudhary, added that the ventilators were mainy distributed in government-run facilities.
And while the daily Twitter users shared pictures of Dhaink Bhaskar showing hospital staff at Rohtak Hospital wearing protective gear, it does need to be acknowledged that the hospital staff across India are putting their lives on the line to ensure the infection does not spread.