Punjab bans late-night shifting of COVID-19 +ve patients to isolation centres

Health teams asked to be more sensitive to patient privacy

ambulance rep onmanorama Representational image | Onmanorama

Following rampant complaints of alleged misbehavior and infringement of privacy while shifting COVID-19 positive patients to isolation centres or hospitals, Punjab has barred late-night shifting of the positive patients. In a letter sent to all civil surgeons and deputy commissioners, the state director health services has ordered that no positive patient shall be shifted to an isolation facility after 8pm.

“It has been noticed once a person is declared positive for Covid19, the district teams reach the house of the patient (late night) and transfer him to an isolation facility with complete insensitivity to his rights and privacy. It is requested that all teams be sensitised not just about privacy but also dealing with empathy. Please ensure respectful transfer of eligible patients to isolation facilities to minimize hardships faced by them,” the order said.

It may be noted that several patients had highlighted how they were virtually dragged out of their homes even at midnight, causing them mental and social trauma.

The district health authorities, however, claim that immediate transfer of a COVID-19 positive patient is one of the important measures to stall the further transmission of the disease. “We have no mechanism to communicate the positive status of reports coming late evening and asking the patient to isolate himself. In case we inform the patient, there is always a risk of the patient fleeing from his address and if we don't, he might infect many in just one night. Nobody is misbehaved with. It's just the patients who refuse to get isolated who make these allegations when they are made to follow the protocols,” said one of the civil surgeons, requesting anonymity.

There is already a staff shortage in several districts in the state. The new order will burden the existing staff even more, they say, as all the patients will have to be shifted in that roughly 12-hour window, thus increasing the risk of transmission.

Punjab reported 202 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total count in the state to 5,418. Five new deaths were also reported today. Sangrur district continued to report the maximum number of cases in Punjab, with 60 fresh cases today, followed by Patiala with 45.