COVID-19: Did IMA meet lead to hundreds of doctors in Bihar testing positive

Out Patient Department and other healthcare services affected in Bihar due to sheer number of infections among doctors, say reports

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Thursday 06 January 2022
The IMA Conference held at Patna on December 27 and 28, 2021, was attended by 5,000 medical professionals from across India. Photo: @mangalpandeybjp / Twitter
The IMA Conference held at Patna on December 27 and 28, 2021, was attended by 5,000 medical professionals from across India. Photo: @mangalpandeybjp / Twitter The IMA Conference held at Patna on December 27 and 28, 2021, was attended by 5,000 medical professionals from across India. Photo: @mangalpandeybjp / Twitter

Is a conference by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) responsible for hundreds of doctors and medical health workers in Bihar testing positive for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?

That is a question many are asking after the COVID-19 situation in the state took a turn for the worse in the last five days.

There have been reports of Out Patient Department (OPD) and other healthcare services getting affected because of the sheer number of infections among doctors.

Local vernacular media in Bihar reported that a large number of doctors, particularly in Patna, tested positive as most had violated COVID-19 guidelines while attending the conference.

The 96th national annual conference of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) was held in Patna December 27 and 28, 2021. Some 5,000 medical professionals from across the country attended the event.

More than 300 doctors and 500 health workers had tested positive till January 6, according to a senior official of the health department.

Nearly 200 of the 300 doctors are from the Patna-based Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH). “Most of the doctors are in home isolation, except a few admitted to hospitals for treatment,” the official said.

A doctor at NMCH said January 6 that routine clinical, OPD and OT services were affected after the doctors tested positive. Officials at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) however claimed OPD, emergency and other departments were functioning as usual.

Dozens of private medical practitioners tested positive after attending the IMA convention but they have not come forward and have decided to get treated at home, according to reports.

Some 41 doctors of five government-run medical colleges and hospitals in Patna tested positive January 5, according to official data.

These included 12 doctors from NMCH, 11 from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Patna, 11 from the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Science (IGIMS), five from the PMCH and two from Indira Gandhi Institute of Cardiology.

AIIMS Patna has decided to restrict the number of new patients in the OPD from January 7. It is a precautionary measure like last year, CM Singh, medical superintendent of AIIMS Patna, said.

Sanjeev Kumar, nodal officer for COVID-19 at AIIMS Patna, admitted that several doctors and health workers had tested positive.

He added that this had left the remaining staff in a tight spot given the surge in the number of cases during the last few days.

Similarly, IGIMS has also restricted registration of patients for OPD. IGIMS Superintendent Manish Mandal said the rush at OPD had been reduced and only serious patients would be treated.

A large number of doctors posted at Sadar (district) hospitals, primary health centres (PHCs) and community health centres have also tested positive in the last few days, according to reports.

District civil surgeon offices in some places have been sealed after health workers tested positive. The functioning of PHCs has been badly affected after resident doctors tested positive and went into home isolation immediately.

The state government has cancelled leaves of all health officials, including doctors and healthcare workers, till February 28. The government asked all those on leave to immediately report to work.

Sanjay Kumar Singh from the State Health Society said COVID-19 had spread very fast in the last few days.

Bihar reported 158 COVID-19 positive cases December 31. This rose to 281 on January 1, followed by 352 new cases on January 2, 344 cases on January 3, 893 cases on January 4 and 1,659 new cases on January 5.

The number of active cases in the state increased to 5,700 and the positivity rate rose to 97.84 % on the evening of January 6.

More doctors tested positive January 16, including 15 of IGIMS and 12 of PMCH

Pratyay Amrit, additional chief secretary of the health department said there was no doubt that COVID-19 cases were rising. But positive patients were recovering fast within 3-5 days, unlike the second wave last year.

“So far, only 63 people have been admitted to hospitals for treatment. About 98 per cent are in home isolation. But health officials have been asked to monitor oxygen levels of those above 60 years of age and those with a history of chronic disease,” Amrit said.

Health experts said the rising cases were due to the new COVID-19 variant omicron as it is infectious but has mild symptoms.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.