Amidst the rising active cases of Wuhan Coronavirus in Delhi, the State Government had reportedly issued a set of two contradictory orders that have added to the woes of doctors at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. On June 3, the Arvind Kejriwal-led-Delhi Government had ordered the hospital to stop testing for supposedly flouting ICMR guidelines on Coronavirus testing.
The notice read, “The district has come to know that the hospital is still not using RT PCR app even till today. The hospital is directed to explain why they have not yet started sample collection via RT PCR app within two days of receipt of the order. RT PCR sampling for Coronavirus suspect/ confirmed cases should be stopped with immediate effect.” Interestingly, the Delhi Government also directed the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital to allocate 80% of its total 675 beds for the treatment of Coronavirus cases. The doctors have dubbed the two orders as being at odds with each other.
According to medical oncologist Dr. Shyam Aggarwal, he had received calls from several cancer patients awaiting their chemotherapy session. He informed, “We have maintained they should get Coronavirus tests done once every two weeks because chemotherapy on a patient who is Covid positive can be disastrous. We have told them that if the test is not done, it (chemotherapy) can be harmful to them.”
Aggarwal learnt that several laboratories in Delhi had stopped conducting tests after having called 6-7 labs. Owing to the Delhi Government order, cancer patients are forced to stay without treatment. Reportedly, the hospital would test 150 to 170 Coronavirus samples and conduct 30-40 surgeries per day. All of it had come to a halt since Thursday.
Doctor narrates how a breast cancer patient had to be reluctantly discharged
Dr. Aggarwal narrated the story of one breast cancer patient whom he had to reluctantly discharge due to the government order. He conceded that the woman was scheduled to be operated on Thursday. However, she could not be operated without performing the required tests. As such, the oncologist had to convince her family about the government diktat and reluctantly discharge the patients, despite knowing that cancer might spread. The surgeries of three patients were postponed in a similar manner in the past 2 days.
How a suspected Coronavirus patient could not be tested
On Thursday night, a 12-year-old from Bhind in Madhya Pradesh was rushed to the said hospital’s emergency ward, following complaints of breathlessness, high fever, altered consciousness, and uncontrollable diabetes. Owing to a temporary ban on testing at the hospital, the doctors proceeded with treating the patient assuming that he had Coronavirus. While the health condition of the patient became stable, everyone in the area got exposed to the virus. As such, a separate system had to be created for him.
Pediatric intensivist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, “If we treat him as Coronavirus positive till results are out (which may take longer from outside labs), the patient will end up paying lakhs for adequate protection (PPE, separate doctor, a separate ward with dedicated nurses). And if I keep him with other Coronavirus patients, this innocent child may catch an infection from them.”
What the Delhi govt’s response was about the contradictory orders issued
Two hospitals associated with the hospital, namely Kolmet and the City Hospital with 40 and 140 bed-capacity were earlier converted into Coronavirus facilities. As per the government diktat, only 20% of beds at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital are available for non-Coronavirus patients. A spokesperson of the Delhi Government had claimed that out of 35 accredited ICMR labs, 8 were found to be flouting official guidelines. As such, action was taken against them temporarily. These laboratories had been instructed to not pick up individual samples. However, he clarified that sample sent by hospitals continue to be processed in the accredited labs
When asked to comment on the issues flagged by doctors, a Delhi government spokesperson said: “There are 35 labs in Delhi authorised by ICMR. These eight labs were found not following the prescribed protocol by ICMR. Therefore, action was initiated. As a temporary measure, these labs have been asked not to pick up individual samples. However, samples sent by various hospitals and other agencies will continue being processed in these labs.” In his defence, Chairman of Sir Ganga ram Hospital said that the management had replied to the notice of the Government and reiterated that it was a minor issue. He emphasised that testing services would be resumed very soon.
Amidst the rising cases of Coronavirus in India’s capital city, a case of administrative negligence on the part of Arvind Kejriwal-led-Delhi Government has come to light. On Thursday, Varun Vats, a resident of Rohini, took to Facebook to narrate his harrowing tale of the struggle to get tested for the Wuhan Coronavirus in Delhi. Failed by the Delhi Government, he decided to self-quarantine, amidst high fever and aggravated symptoms of cough, headache, and weakness.
He added that his financial condition motivated him to contact private laboratories, something which may be a far-fetched dream for the impoverished section of the society. He asked, “Who will test them (the poor), treat, and care about them? No testing means no new cases. This is how our beloved CM Arvind Kejriwal wants to decrease the number of Coronavirus cases in Delhi.”