The Thrissur DMO has submitted a report to the Collector saying that the doctor appeared on a channel and created panic.

Kerala doctor in the dock Govt says she spread panic on COVID-19 doc says was being alert
Coronavirus Coronavirus Wednesday, March 11, 2020 - 09:57

Dr Shinu Syamalan, doctor, social worker and writer from Kerala who has a number of followers on Facebook, was nearly in tears when she put a live video on Facebook on Monday. She has just lost her job at a private clinic in Thrissur. Though Shinu says she has been targeted her for alerting health authorities about a suspected case of coronavirus disease, the government says she created unnecessary panic about the virus.

Shinu alleges that a man with high fever came to the private clinic on Sunday and on learning that he came from Qatar, she suspected he could have COVID-19. She alerted the health authorities and the next day wrote on Facebook that she lost her job at the clinic for doing her duty as a doctor.

“It is a private clinic, so the owner is not answerable to anyone. He had heard me alert the health authorities about a person with high fever who had come to Kerala from Qatar some days ago and failed to report it to the health department. The owner didn’t want me to alert them and said that it would bring trouble if people came to know that a coronavirus-infected person had visited the clinic. No one would come to the clinic after that, he feared,” Dr Shinu tells TNM.

Later, Dr Shinu had also appeared on a Malayalam television channel called 24 News and took to social media to express her fears about the man who appears to have gone back to Qatar despite her best efforts to stop him. The clinic owner accused her of doing all this for publicity.

“But I haven’t mentioned the name of the clinic or given out details about the man from Qatar anywhere,” she says.

In her live video, Shinu says that she saw the man and his wife at the clinic on Sunday evening and found that they had not reported to the health department about him travelling from Qatar and reaching Kerala by the end of January. “They seemed uninterested, they also refused to give me their phone number. I alerted the health department but they had a lacklustre attitude in finding out the details. Perhaps it is because 35 days had already passed since he came to India (and the incubation period is only 14 days). But in between, he travelled to Delhi and Agra. That should also be taken into consideration.”

Meanwhile, the Thrissur District Medical Office (DMO) has reacted against this statement of the doctor. DMO Dr Reena told TNM that she has given a complaint to the Collector against Dr Shinu. “For spreading unnecessary panic about the disease and demoralising the health workers who have been working day and night (to contain the spread of the disease). The man had come from Qatar on January 31 and according to the guidelines issued to us, no case had been reported there during that time, so we didn’t have to quarantine him. It is wrong to spread unnecessary fear. Further, a news channel has run a show speaking poorly of the health department without enquiring anything from us,” Dr Reena says.

The DMO in her report to the Collector has said that the man had got fever only after 35 days of his stay in India, which is beyond the incubation period of the virus (14 days). The DMO also says that fever is just one of the symptoms, and everyone with fever need not have COVID-19. Dr Shinu had mentioned during her appearance on TV that the man had gone back to Qatar and was admitted at hospital. The DMO says that Dr Shinu made this allegation without understanding that Qatar is compulsorily isolating people who have arrived from other countries.

Also read: ‘Where do we go?’: Indians stuck at Milan airport as India tightens rules over COVID-19

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