Bhopal: A shower of rose petals, a police band and a gaggle of reporters — a hearty welcome awaited 44 recovered Covid-19 patients who were discharged from Bhopal’s Chirayu Medical College and Hospital Wednesday evening.
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh pulled out all the stops to “celebrate” the patients’ recovery.
The chief minister himself tuned in via video conferencing and spoke to eight of the patients and two doctors, an interaction broadcast on a projector outside the hospital’s Covid-19 facility.
“Tell everyone that it’s possible to win the war against corona,” he told one of the patients.
आज #COVID19 के संक्रमण से मुक्त होकर चिरायु अस्पताल से घर जा रहे नागरिकों से बात की। आपने मुझमें इस विश्वास को और बढ़ा दिया कि कोरोना से ना केवल लड़ने बल्कि जीतने का भी माद्दा प्रदेश में है! किसी को कोरोना हो जाए तो घबराएं नहीं, हौसला रखें। #IndiaFightsCorona #MPFightsCorona pic.twitter.com/8A9jV8gvs9
— Shivraj Singh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) April 22, 2020
Another 28 patients discharged by Chirayu Medical College and Hospital Saturday had reportedly received a water-cannon greeting.
The ceremony for the patients Wednesday came as the Chouhan government courts criticism for allegedly favouring private facilities over government hospitals as the hubs of its Covid-19 response. Most of the 106 Covid-19 patients linked to the state’s Directorate of Health Services (DHS), which has emerged as a hotspot of infection, were admitted to private hospitals despite Bhopal also having an AIIMS branch.
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The Chief Medical Officer of Bhopal, Prabhakar Tiwari, has, however, rubbished the criticism.
“It’s not all in the private (hospitals). If you see the list of facilities that we have identified, there is AIIMS (Bhopal), Hamidia, Chirayu, Bansal — two private and two government. We are right now running the facility at AIIMS and Chirayu… Even 50 per cent of these facilities haven’t been utilised,” he told ThePrint.
The Covid-19 facility at Chirayu Medical College and Hospital has been treating 300 patients, making it one of the state’s nerve centres for treatment amid the pandemic.
When ThePrint arrived at the Covid-19 facility Wednesday, around 20 reporters were already gathered outside — a rare crowd amid the ongoing lockdown. As a drone flew by with a low buzz, an official of the Bhopal Municipal Corporation said it had been deployed to film the entire event.
Circles had been drawn on the ground for the patients, to ensure physical distancing guidelines were followed when they stepped out. Before the patients came out, hospital owner Dr Ajay Goenka had informed reporters that the people being discharged included police personnel and their families.
“From the beginning itself, you are able to figure out the direction in which this is going… If early hypoxia (when the body or a part of the body is unable to get adequate oxygen) is treated, then it isn’t able to go to that gravity,” he said. “None of my patients has gone to the ICU or needed ventilator support. By giving 6-8 litres of oxygen, I have been successful,” he added.
As he spoke to the media, three police personnel stood in front of the doctor, each with a tricolour in hand. A short while later, five medical personnel in personal protective equipment (PPE) emerged from the facility. Behind them, walking in a file, were the 44 patients. They were greeted with a round of applause.
While a few lugged small bags, the rest just carried water bottles. They came and stood inside the circles as a few police personnel broke out into slogans of “Bharat Mata ki jai (glory to Mother India)”. Additional superintendent of police Dinesh Kaushal then garlanded many of the patients.
Out and about
A video call with the chief minister ensued through a laptop placed at the site. Speaking to Chouhan, one of the patients, sub-inspector Girish Tripathi, said, “I am completely OK now — I tested positive on 4 April after doing duty in Jahangirabad (a hotspot). I had been admitted for the past 15 days. There were 5-year-old, 8-year-old children with me. But, today, everyone has been treated and are being discharged.”
When the CM asked him if he had been taken care of properly at the hospital, Tripathi nodded vehemently and said yes.
The hand-drawn circles, however, proved unsuccessful in keeping the crowd at a distance as reporters wove through the patients, asking them questions.
“We would get up in the morning and be given pills — then we would get breakfast,” said Mohammed Tariq, a computer operator in the Covid-19 control room that had been set up at the DHS, told ThePrint.
Tariq was all praise for the treatment they received at the hospital. “After breakfast, they (hospital staff) would give us a tablet and then, around 2, they would give us food. We got snacks around 5… There was no problem here. We were treated well,” he said.
The event concluded with everyone singing the national anthem, which was followed by an array of patriotic songs, including ‘Vande Mataram’, from the police band.
When the treated patients departed the facility in a bus, the government and police officials present tossed a clutch of rose petals to send them off.
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