'Stringent action against Bhilwara doctor who made Raj town epicentre of COVID 19 spread'

*Health Minister Raghu Sharma (IANS)

Jaipur (IANS) As Bhilwara, the business town of Rajasthan, becomes corona epicentre registering the highest COVID-19 positive cases in the state, Health Minister Raghu Sharma told IANS that stringent actions shall be taken against the doctor of Bangad Memorial Hospital, whose negligence caused the crisis.

"Taking legal action against the doctor is very much in our mind, however, priority is to control the present situation. Bangad Memorial Hospital shall be seized, and a legal case shall be taken against this hospital. We are discussing this with our health machinery," he said.

Alok Mittal, the doctor has been accused of the grave negligence as his inaction made the coronavirus spread. He failed to perform his due duties honestly and did not act the way he should have after receiving foreign guests at his residence, the state minister said.

Mittal continued visiting the hospital, testing patients and meeting staff and friends without getting himself quarantined when required, said Sharma.

Speaking on how the particular hospital became the epicentre, the minister said: "A few guests from overseas had visited the house of Dr Alok Mittal and they had brought the infection along. Surprisingly, the doctor without getting the things checked continued visiting the hospital and diagnosed the patients. He, himself though did not go on any foreign travel, but continued interacting with staff.

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As the state government now battles to keep the spread in check, Sharma said that as a doctor, Mittal should not have gone to hospital and diagnosed the patients in hospital but surprisingly, he also travelled to Udaipur during Holi and stayed in a resort putting many lives in danger.

Sharma said that the state health machinery first wants to control the situation in Bhilwara where two patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have died on Thursday. Bhilwara has 21 of the 45 positive cases in the state so far.

Of the 21 patients reported in this textile town, 15 are doctors, nurses and other staff of this hospital. Even the two deceased who died in state on Thursday were admitted in this hospital. Four more patients in the town tested positive on Thursday and Friday, which comprise family members of the deceased.

While two are son and grand daughter of the first deceased, the other two are also family members of the second deceased.

The minister further said: "A legal action hence is very much on our mind to be taken against him, however the situation in Bhilwara needs to be controlled first. We have imposed curfew in Bhilwara and over 320 teams are deputed in this town for the most intensive screening exercise here."

Sharma said that out of 28 lakh people residing in this city, 24 lakh people have been screened. Their samples have been collected and testing was under process.

As many as 700 more samples are being tested on Friday and on Saturday, he said.

The minister further said that many COVID-19 patients came to Rajasthan via road driving straight from Delhi International Airport. "Even the first group of 23 members from Italy had come via road from Delhi and surprisingly their travel plans were not shared with us which if done, could have helped a lot," Sharma added.

The minister said that the department is taking all actions to contain the spread.

"We are pitching in ESI doctors for their services in these testing times. Also, the department is considering if dentists can also be pulled in and trained to screen the patients," he added.

With the possibility of patients increasing in the stat, the health minister has also made a humble appeal to private hospitals to offer their hospitals partially or fully for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

He also appealed to the doctors, nursing staff, paramedical staff to give approval for rendering their services at this time of crisis.

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