Leave of Karnataka Health Department staff cancelled for 50 days

As 25th March marked one year since the lockdown was imposed on 130 crore people of India, there have been reports of a “second wave” of coronavirus. Several states have again started taking measures to ensure that they are able to handle the situation efficiently. The Karnataka government last week announced that the leave of Health Department staff stands cancelled for the next 50 days.

Health and Medical Education Minister Dr K. Sudhakar said,” “I will not take a break for the next 50 days and I expect my Department staff to follow me to fight against the pandemic.”

The Indian Medical Association has criticised the decision saying that the state government should not pass such blanket orders and instead, leave it to hospitals to ensure that staff are distributed evenly across shifts to ensure that patients are looked after.

“See, doctors don’t wear magic white coats that protect them from fatigue, grief and fear. Pandemics place health professionals at increased risk of mental illness, uncomfortable emotions and moral injury. They must contend with other additional burdens. We know very well that it is our duty to treat patients with utmost care and we will do it even without such orders,” said Dr Srinivasa S, Chairman of the IMA’s standing committee for child health.

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Speaking on the move, a doctor from a government hospital said, “Yes. We agree that we have to work in mission mode for the next few months to curb the rise in the number of cases. The minister says he will not take a break for the next 50 days and that we should follow his lead to fight the pandemic. But is his job like ours? Is he in PPE for 6-8 hours at a stretch that he would understand what we are going through?”

“They will be asked again to risk their lives, see their colleagues die from Covid-19, make immense sacrifice in their personal lives to serve their patients, and generally be called on to show superhuman abilities,” said Dr Menon, a doctor at a government hospital in Jayanagar. 

In the wake of rising coronavirus cases, the state government has also banned public celebrations, gatherings & congregations during upcoming festivals like Holi, Ugadi, Shab-e-Barat & Good Friday. Public gatherings and congregations in public grounds, parks, markets and religious places have also been banned. 

Dr K Sudhakar has announced that all passengers travelling to Bengaluru will need to carry a negative Covid-19 test (RT-PCR) report. Before this order, the state government had made carrying a negative test report compulsory only for those entering the state from Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab and Chandigarh.

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