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AICC spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday

🕤 March 31, 2020 | 01:55 am

DW BUREAU / Chandigarh Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala on Monday urged government to ramp up testing facilities to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection and immediately provide personal protection equipment to doctors and paramedical staff to help them treat patients without risking their lives. Citing data put out by Haryana's Health Department in its bulletin on COVID-19 as on March 29, he said it mentions that the number of people who returned from foreign nations was over 12,000 but in all only 650 tests had been carried out. Quoting from the bulletin, he said, "12,531 people came from abroad in recent weeks as per the bulletin on March 29, but only 650 have been tested for the virus. Question is why test of 11,881 others has not been done so far? "Why tests of their family members or those who possibly could have come into their contact have not been done. This is the first step we have to take if we have to stop spread of coronavirus in its tracks," he said.Surjewala also expressed dissatisfaction over the speed of building up testing facility in the state. "We are not ramping up the testing, which is the key to prevention. Checking community spread is the key to prevention. Designated hospitals and putting dedicated medical staff exclusively for these suspected or positive coronavirus cases is the key to prevention. Unfortunately, the government has not done anything in this regard so far," the Congress' chief spokesperson told a media conference which he addressed via a video link. Surjewala, who is former legislator from Haryana, said the entire state is together in this fight against coronavirus but questioned the government's preparedness to deal with the situation. "We are not here to criticise the Khattar government, but it is our duty to give suggestions so that the state can be saved from this pandemic. God forbid, if the spread of this virus turns into a community infection, how will states like Haryana deal with it?" he asked. The Congress leader wondered that with only two testing facilities at present available at PGIMS, Rohtak and Bhagat Phool Singh Medical College at Sonipat and both having capacity of not doing more than 100 tests a day "how will suspected cases travel from other corners of Haryana to get their tests done when there is lockdown". He asked the government "when will doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff who are in the frontline of this battle, have adequate protection?" "Until March 31, India needed nearly 7.5 lakh hazmat suits, 60 lakh 3-ply and N-95 masks and one rore surgical masks. When will these be made available?" he asked For COVID-19 patients or suspected patients, disposable bed sheets are not available in hospitals in Haryana, which increases the chances of the spread of infection among other vulnerable patients. "The question is how can we effectively fight the pandemic in such a situation?" he asked. He suggested that in each district, a free testing lab should be opened for testing COVID-19. "For all coronavirus suspected and confirmed cases separate isolation facility should be set up to keep them separated from other patients. A designated hospital should be set up and dedicated medical staff should be put exclusively for the suspected or positive patients," he said, adding medical waste generated from such patients should be disposed by special incinerators. All doctors, nurses and paramedics should be given double salary for three months and the ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh, announced for them, should be hiked. He claimed 20,000 contractual employees, including half of them from health department and the Safai Karamcharis in rural areas, whose services are critical at this juncture, have not got their wages for the past three months. Replying to a question, Surjewala said, "We are giving constructive suggestions and pointing out to the government where there are lacunae. If they remove these, state can be saved, but if they decide to throw our suggestions into dustbin just because these are coming from the opposition, then state will have to face the consequences". To another question, he said in this hour of crisis, the Congress workers too are doing their best lending a helping hand to ensure that food is available to those in need. (editor@dailyworld.in)



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