Sitamarhi: A fear among doctors and paramedical staff of contracting Covid-19 has led them to close their clinics and laboratories.
Doctors in Bihar’s Sitamarhi district don’t seem to be willing to reopen their clinics following the Centre’s unlock guidelines.
Dr Sanjay Kumar Verma, a physician, informed The Observer the main reason for doctors’ decision to keep their clinics closed is people disregarding advice to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
“Since a lot of my colleagues owning clinics have contracted the virus, I am scared. I am 72 and susceptible to the virus,” said Dr Verma, who used to see patients in his clinic before the lockdown.
Dr Yugal Kishor Prasad, an ENT specialist, said: “A lot of our own staff are careless which puts us at a high risk of contraction.”
Neeraj Jha, owner of Lal Path Lab, said: “My test clinics have not been functioning for the past five months because of insufficient tests prescribed by doctors. I have laid off four of my workers as it wasn’t possible to pay their salaries…. Test centres are now more focused on home testing as people prefer it.”
Those who lost their jobs haven’t had a regular income for more than six months. Mukund Kumar, a compounder at Navjivan Clinics, said: “After a month of lockdown, I was fired. Since then, I am relying on farming and menial jobs.”
According to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), the death rate among doctors in Bihar due to Covid-19 is 4.42% as against the national average of 0.5%. IMA attributes this to fewer rapid antigen tests and people’s complete disregard for social distancing norms.
The shutdown of clinics has affected heart patients, pregnant women and sick children who are left with no choice but to visit government hospitals.
Praveen Kumar, whose father is a diabetes patient, had to shift him to a private hospital in Patna under the care of specialist doctors.
As government hospitals are crowded with Covid-19 patients, OPDs are not admitting critical patients. Another challenge faced by government hospitals is a shortage of staff. They refer critical cases to big hospitals.
Doctors are reluctant to open their clinics despite strict instructions from the district magistrate to follow the unlock guidelines.