A doctor in coronavirus-affected Thrissur district of Kerala on Tuesday alleged that she was sacked by the management of a private clinic for alerting the health department about a suspected coronavirus patient who reportedly refused to undergo the mandatory check, reported PTI.
“The argument of the management is that no one would turn up for treatment in the clinic if they come to know that it was visited by patients with suspected symptoms of coronavirus,” Shinu Syamalan told the news agency.
Syamalan alleged that the man with high fever came to the private clinic on Sunday. When she learnt that he came from Qatar, she suspected he could have COVID-19. “All I did was to do my duty as a doctor to first advise him to go to a government hospital,” she told The Telegraph. “But when he refused, as he wanted to head to Doha, I reported to the health department. Today I am jobless.”
Fourteen people in Kerala are now under treatment for coronavirus. The government has instructed all doctors to report suspected cases to it immediately.
On Monday, the doctor posted a live video on Facebook. Later, she also appeared on a Malayalam television channel. “It is a private clinic, so the owner is not answerable to anyone,” she told The News Minute. “He had heard me alert the health authorities about a person with high fever who had come to Kerala from Qatar some days ago and failed to report it to the health department. The owner didn’t want me to alert them and said that it would bring trouble if people came to know that a coronavirus-infected person had visited the clinic. No one would come to the clinic after that, he feared.”
The owner of the private clinic accused her of doing all this for publicity. “I had only asked her to go on one month’s leave to get over this matter,” he said, according to The Telegraph.
The district medical officer at Thrissur has accused Syamalan of defaming health officials. A complaint has been lodged with the district collector too. The district health department has issued a statement saying that the suspected coronavirus patient had completed his 28-day quarantine period. “[A complaint has been filed] For spreading unnecessary panic about the disease and demoralising the health workers who have been working day and night [to contain the spread of the disease],” District Medical Officer Dr Reena told The News Minute.
“The man had come from Qatar on January 31 and according to the guidelines issued to us, no case had been reported there during that time, so we didn’t have to quarantine him. It is wrong to spread unnecessary fear,” Reena added. “Further, a news channel has run a show speaking poorly of the health department without enquiring anything from us.”
But the doctor said she had no information about the quarantine factor. “My only concern was that he came to me with high fever, which had to be reported to the district health department due to the prevailing situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak,” she told The Telegraph. “I am not even saying he is coronavirus positive. The patient came to me [on Sunday] without even a mask and said he had flown to Delhi and Agra over the past two weeks and was leaving for Doha on Monday. He wanted me to give him an injection to reduce the fever. But I told him that’s not a proper way to treat fever.”