New Delhi: Doctors in two Rajasthan cities are facing action for risking the lives of thousands of people as they treated patients for days at hospitals in Alwar and Bhiwadi after arriving from coronavirus-hit countries earlier this month, ThePrint has learnt.
At least three cases have come to light when five doctors from the state continued to treat patients, and even conducted surgeries, immediately after returning from abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
While Alwar saw two such cases of doctor couples, Bhiwadi reported a similar case of a doctor who runs a hospital in the industrial town.
The Rajasthan government has now put all of them in quarantine, and issued notices to them.
The government has also registered a case against a petrol pump owner in Sriganganagar for housing five persons who had returned from abroad.
The incidents have come to light hours after the country came together on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to express gratitude to the medical community and other essential services workers.
As of Sunday, there are 29 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in Rajasthan with the state also reporting its first death last week.
According to the central government’s guidelines, all asymptomatic individuals who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days should stay in home quarantine for 14 days.
The three cases
In the first case of alleged negligence in Alwar, Dr Pramod Mathur, in charge of the city’s Kala Kuan Satellite Hospital, and his wife Dr Anita Mathur, in charge of Zanana Hospital, returned from coronavirus-hit California in the US on 6 March, sources told ThePrint.
However, both of them allegedly continued to see patients and even conducted operations. After the medical authorities received complaints, both were kept in an isolation ward at Samanya Hospital on 19 March.
This hospital also became the ground for the second case of negligence in the city after it came to light Dr M.S. Saxena and his wife Dr Kalpana Saxena continued to treat patients after returning from Singapore, along with their son, on 8 March, said the sources.
The couple has been isolated since last week.
Speaking to ThePrint, Alwar Principal Medical Officer Sunil Kumar Chouhan said both the couples had gone abroad without information. However, he claimed that they attended patients only for a day.
“We immediately quarantined them the next day after learning about their foreign visit. They were issued notices and matter was also reported to medical directorate and district collector,” he said, adding their reports have come negative.
In Bhiwadi, Dr Rakesh Soni had continued to treat patients in the outpatient department (OPD) at his Soni Hospital for almost a week since his return from Dubai on 14 March, said the sources.
On 21 March, Sub-Divisional Magistrate Tijara Khemaram Yadav dispatched a team to the hospital. The administration closed it down and put Soni in home isolation. His samples have been sent for a COVID-19 test and the report is awaited.
Asked why no police case was registered against these doctors, Chouhan said notices were issued to the doctors and the matter was reported to senior authorities. “We will act as per their instructions,” he added.
These incidents have come on top of the reported case in Bhilwara where the Rajasthan government was forced to impose curfew after a doctor was found COVID-19 positive, and ended up infecting five of his colleagues. An estimated 6,000 people had been treated by the doctor recently.
Chhaya Pachauli, director of Prayas, a voluntary health organisation, called this a serious matter. “Of all the people how can doctors act in such an irresponsible manner,” she said, calling for strict action against anyone who violates the central government’s guidelines and hides travel history.
ThePrint reached the state’s health minister and additional chief secretary (health) for comment but there was no response till the time of publishing this report.
FIR in Sriganganagar for negligence
Days after Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor, who has tested positive for coronavirus, courted controversy for allegedly hiding her travel history, a petrol pump owner in Rajasthan’s Sriganganagar has been booked for similar negligence.
The case came to light after the district’s chief medical & health officer (CMHO) Dr Surendra Pal complained against Surjeet Pal Singh Bansal for negligence, posing threat to human lives and disobeying government orders.
According to the CMHO’s complaint, the district administration had received a tip-off about some people from Sikar, who had returned from Italy, staying in a house in Sriganganagar.
A medical team led by Pal, dispatched to verify the information, found five people staying in a house adjacent to a petrol pump on Padampura Road. Bansal owned the house. He allegedly not only gave shelter to the five, but also didn’t inform the district administration.
While Bansal was booked, the five visitors were released on being found asymptomatic, but were made to submit an affidavit that they would quarantine themselves at home.