Doctors and health workers protest government’s changed quarantine guidelines

On May 22, doctors and health workers treating COVID-19 patients across the country protested against the revised quarantine guidelines issued by the Centre and the health departments of some states. It may be recalled that on May 15, the health ministry changed the quarantine rules for healthcare workers working in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, to state that the health workers should be quarantined only in case of “high risk exposure” or if a worker reported symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. According to the old guidelines, all workers were advised a 14-day quarantine after 14 days’ COVID-19 duty.

Resident doctors’ associations (RDAs) and doctors’ unions of Deep Chand Bandhu Government Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Lady Hardinge, Lok Nayak Hospital and RML Hospital in Delhi, among others, observed the protest. The Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) had earlier written a letter to Union health minister to revoke the advisory. The resident doctors’ association of AIIMS Delhi also wrote a strongly worded letter to the director, Dr. Randeep Guleria, opposing the revised quarantine protocols. The doctors have expressed the apprehension that “many asymptomatic doctors are testing positive for COVID-19 at present”.  They have called the government’s new guidelines “unscientific and ill-founded” and stated that revising the existing quarantine protocols for healthcare workers could “prove detrimental in the country’s efforts to contain the pandemic”.

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