Panicked citizens swarm RGICD demanding COVID-19 test

Panicked citizens swarm RGICD demanding coronavirus test

Coronavirus fears are driving people with common cough and fever to the coronavirus help desk at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, straining the diagnostic services. 

Convinced that they have the symptoms, citizens started showing up at the screening OPD outside the Ineffective Cases ICU on Friday morning, only to be turned away by doctors after preliminary screening. 

Karthik, 23, a startup employee, was frustrated at being turned away. “These doctors are only checking people flown in from other countries, but we are not getting medical attention,” he said.

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Karthik, who had a runny nose and fever, was worried he might pass it on to his 50-year-old mother. 

Two men from Vijayanagar were irate at being turned away despite possessing COVID-19 symptoms. Those seeking a medical all-clear certificate to satisfy their company requirements were also frustrated having been refused the screening. 

The screening OPD was set up to attend to those with a travel history or returning from “affected countries” as designated by airlines and government health officials at the airport, explained Dr Deepak U G, the nodal officer at RGICD. “Many come here with seasonal and allergic cases of cold and cough. We don’t have resources to treat them all,” Dr Deepak said, adding the OPD follows the government’s guidelines. 

A copy of the order pasted at the centre specified that screening would be carried out for passengers directly flying in from China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran and Italy. 

Dr Deepak ruled out the “community spread” of the virus, saying people are unduly worried.

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