Opposition leaders in Haryana on Tuesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party and Jannayak Janata Party of “threatening and victimising” those deployed on the frontlines to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the state, The Indian Express reported. This came after a health official identified as Dr Rajesh Punia was taken off Covid-19 duty for allegedly putting up a quarantine poster in front of the home of a top politician’s aide.
Punia, a gazetted officer, works in Hisar’s government hospital to contain vector-borne diseases like malaria, dengue and swine flu. He was assigned coronavirus-related duties, which includes putting a suspected patient in home quarantine.
On Saturday night, the health officials received a report that a local youth who returned from Gurugram has tested positive for the coronavirus. A team led by Punia went to his home immediately in Hisar’s Urban Estate to take his samples. However, the youth showed a report that said he has tested negative. He was taken to a government hospital with the help of the police, but discharged within hours.
“I had got up at 5 am to bring the suspect to the hospital but he returned to his home by 11 am by using political influence,” Punia said in a Facebook post. “I was also pressured that no quarantine poster be pasted in front of his home. But I could not endanger the lives of other residents. So my team pasted the quarantine poster in front of his house.”
The district health administration stripped Punia of his coronavirus duty charge on Monday. He has been asked to look after malaria-related work now.
Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij ordered an investigation into the matter on Tuesday. “An impartial probe will be conducted and the guilty will be punished,” he said. “The corona warriors have a significant role in the fight against the virus.”
State Congress chief Kumari Selja and Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Singh Hooda criticised the ruling government. “When the coronavirus warriors serve us by risking their lives, people from the power quarters threaten them and victimise [them] by stripping [them] of their charge,” Selja said in a tweet.
Hooda and Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala termed the development as “unfortunate”. Another Congress leader Kuldeep Bishnoi urged the government to restore Punia’s earlier duties to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, Hisar Chief Medical Officer Yogesh Sharma claimed there were discrepancies in the test reports of the patient. “The youth told us that the report in which he was shown positive for the coronavirus was wrong,” he told the newspaper. “When we accessed his report, the result was found negative. The test conducted by us also returned negative. That’s why he was discharged from the hospital after two hours on Sunday. Strict quarantine is not necessary in his case but we have advised him to stay at home.”
Haryana has recorded 780 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths so far, according to the figures from the health ministry.