Bengal: Health scare in Tarapith after doctors check Covid-19 patients, throw PPE on roads


Medical professionals in West Bengal’s Tarapith left locals agitated by leaving used personal protective equipment (PPE) on the streets in the area after a check-up.

The PPE was disposed on the streets on Monday after a series of screening were conducted in the temple town of Tarapith on Sunday.

Doctors had arrived to screen around 65 patients spread across various rooms of a hotel that has been converted into an isolation centre. Around 55 people, mostly migrant labour from different parts of the country but residents of Birbhum have been kept here. Some of them had been complaining of the restlessness with certain symptoms of Covid-19 too.

The doctors were sent from Rampurhat Medical College and Hospital for the screening and identification of the patients to be referred to Covid-19 hospital in the district in Bolpur.

As the doctors left, they also left PPE strewn just next to the hotel-turned-isolation centre. This has left the locals agitated and seething with anger.

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Photo: India Today

Sameer Kumar Sinha, one of five doctors, said, “When we reached the site there was a police official. We steamed and sanitized the ground floor. Meanwhile, people on the first floor were being screened. Two police officials were monitoring people in different rooms. But they did not have any symptoms. We did not know who was Covid-19 positive. We were searching and scanning each and every person in the rooms. Even police officials had no idea so they were also monitoring every room. After constant scanning, we found six people with symptoms.”

“We received instructions that it is a special case and the Chief Medical Officer will verify the patients so we should not interfere. We were told by the duty officer to throw the used kits near the roadside since there is no proper disposal system here. We felt very bad, but there was no other option,” he explained further.

The doctors made many efforts but claim they were left with no option but to throw the used PPE in a public place.

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Photo: India Today

Sinha said, “We quickly discarded the used kits. That is the situation. We have done so much, we have monitored patients, we hired a car and came here. People should understand. I am really sad. I apologize for this. There was no other place to dispose of the kits. If I would have thrown somewhere else, it would have created more problems. I threw them near a dustbin so that the municipal truck can collect it and discard it. No, we did not throw on the roadside.”

The temple town of Tarapith in West Bengal is now worried about the risk these undisposed PPE have exposed the area to.

Sharmila Maulik, Medical Superintendant of Rampurhat Medical College and Hospital expressed her regret on the same. She said, “In the morning my team came here to screen patients and I had no idea they would dispose of the used kits like this. I came quickly as soon as I got the news. When I reached here there was no health staff or official present here. I am very offended by this behaviour. They were not supposed to throw the PPE kits on the roads…I do not have any further details…I will take this issue to senior officials and take disciplinary action against it.”

As the coronavirus scare continues to haunt West Bengal, this is a serious problem that needs to be highlighted immediately. While the state is managing to bring supplies and Personal Protective Equipment for testing, the disposal system of PPEs is a new burning issue in Birbhum.

(with photos and input from Bhaskar Mukherjee in Birbhum)

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About the author: Sohom Das
Founder of Tuccho.

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