National Doctors’ Day 2020: ‘Paid quarantine’ in return for the priceless service of doctors in Manipur?

A Manipur government office memorandum issued on the eve of National Doctors’ Day stated that health workers and doctors are allowed to avail “paid quarantine” facilities in hotels designated by state home department as paid quarantine centers which should be paid by the individuals.

On the occasion of National Doctors’ Day 2020 on Wednesday – July 1, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh greeted all the doctors and health workers in the state and lauded their selfless contribution and priceless sacrifice in putting their life at risk in the frontline for the safety and welfare of humanity, especially in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors and other health workers in the state are working tirelessly and struggling to save lives with the limited infrastructure, manpower resources and other urgent requirement amid difficult conditions to attend to the countless people in the state. But, is the government doing enough for the safety and welfare of the medical professionals remains a big question.

On this celebratory day, doctors in Manipur are dismayed by a government office memorandum regarding “paid quarantine”. Reacting strongly against the memorandum, the All Manipur Health Services Doctors Association (AMHSDA) on Tuesday urged the chief minister to provide free quarantine for healthcare providers by withdrawing the government memorandum issued on Monday by state principal secretary (health and family welfare), V Vumlunmang.

The memorandum mentioned that doctors and other health workers who are involved in treatment of COVID-19 patients in hospitals or COVID Care Centers are required to undergo mandatory quarantine after duty period.

The memorandum also stated that health workers and doctors are allowed to avail paid quarantine facilities in hotels designated by state home department as paid quarantine centers which should be paid by the individuals.

Reacting to it, the AMHSDA issued a letter signed by its president Dr P Shyamsunder Singh, stating that Manipur Health Services officers and other health workers are performing their duties in all stages of COVID containment and treatment measures as per SOPs issued from time to time by the government. The duties have been pursued by risking the lives of their families and their own, it said.

The association urged the chief minister to withdraw the office memorandum issued for availing of paid quarantine for the doctors and health workers.

The association has asked to arrange free dedicated quarantine centres for all health care providers involved in the treatment of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and COVID Care centres across the state.

National Doctors' Day 2020 is celebrated under the aegis of the Indian Medical Association across the nation on July 1. In his message on the occasion, Biren said:

“The heroic efforts of the courageous doctors and health workers who lost their lives while saving the lives of COVID-19 patients will never be forgotten… In the current times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has realized the importance of doctors more than ever. While we are self-isolating, it is the doctors who are constantly fighting for the lives of people who have been infected with the deadly virus. They have been putting their own lives at risk in taking care of patients infected with the virus.

"The celebration of the Doctors' Day underscores the value of the medical community in our lives. It offers an opportunity to express our gratitude towards the community for the life-saving service they offer… On this Doctors' day, let us respect and appreciate doctors and health workers for their selfless contribution in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic”.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the total number of COVID-19 positive cases in Manipur rose to 1,234 after seven more returnees tested positive for the novel coronavirus, additional director and spokesperson Health Department, Manipur, Dr Khoirom Sasheekumar Mangang said in a statement.

With 59 more persons having recovered from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the number of active cases in the state stood at 681 while the recovered cases increased to 553. The recovery rate now is 44.81 per cent, Dr Mangang stated.

First Published:July 1, 2020, 10:19 a.m.