Telangana Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan on Monday held a meeting with experts over combating COVID-19 and called for postponing the upcoming post-graduate examinations for medical students.
"Postpone examinations, including Medical PG, as life is more important than examinations," said a statement from Raj Bhavan, which listed out the suggestions that emerged from the interaction.
The suggestion came two days after a junior doctor who tested positive for the coronavirus, wrote to the Governor seeking her intervention regarding postponement of the final year exams for post graduates scheduled to be held between June 20 and 29.
The junior doctor from the Osmania Medical College in Hyderabad is undergoing treatment along with many of his fellows medicos at the state-run Gandhi Hospital.
"I personally faced and experienced how difficult it is to be isolated in this critical situation. To prepare for exams in such an atmosphere is simply not possible. Due to this mental agony, I am not able to concentrate to study for the exams. I fear that I may not perform well in the exams and risk losing an academic year because of an unfortunate incident. It is simply not possible to face everything simultaneously: the health problem, studies, the exam anxiety, and the social stigma," the junior doctor wrote in his letter.
Soundararajan, a medical doctor by profession, is also the Chancellor of the Kaloji Narayana Rao University of Health Sciences (KNRUHS) that conducts the exams.
Meanwhile, the Healthcare Reforms Doctors' Association (HRDA) has also filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Telangana High Court seeking direction to the government to postpone the exams.
Around 1,400 postgraduates from across the state are going to appear for their final exams between June 20 and 29.
The petitioner said that the government is unnecessarily rushing to conduct the exams and that the exams could wait until the pandemic is over.
It pointed out that out of the 1,405 doctors/PG final year students set to take the exams, 663 are from colleges located within the Greater Hyderabad and Rangareddy districts, the COVID-19 hotspots in the state.
Meanwhile, in their conversation with the Governor, the experts also suggested a rational testing policy to be evolved based on the local conditions, rather than strictly adhering to the broad guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The suggestion is significant as the state government has been coming under criticism from various quarters for not conducting adequate number of tests. The government has been maintaining that it is strictly going by the guidelines of the ICMR.
The Governor's interaction is also seen as significant as she is reportedly in favour of increasing the number of tests. Soundararajan, a doctor herself, is also understood to be unhappy with the state government's response to her requests for information on COVID-19 situation while the government is also reportedly not pleased with her visit to a hospital last week.
Most of the suggestions issued by the Raj Bhavan were similar to the directions given or observations made by the High Court and the demands raised by the opposition parties.
The experts favoured an epidemiological spread-based testing and effective tracing. Death cases which have symptoms of COVID-19 must be tested to facilitate isolation of family members and to know the epidemiological spread of disease, they added.
"Since lockdown is not an affordable option for a prolonged period, the only strategy that can be adopted is test, trace and treat," they said.