What ails Tripura more than COVID?

Photos and videos of bodies of people claimed by COVID-19 lying around at GB Pant Hospital, the state's main referral hospital, have gone viral on social media.

There is a steep climb in the number of COVID-19 patients in Tripura. As of today, atleast another 644 people have tested positive for the virus which pushes the state's overall tally to 20,699. This figure stands second in the northeastern region of the country after Assam.
Meanwhile the death toll has risen to 228 with six fatalities in the last 24 hours. West Tripura district, which also comprises the state capital Agartala, has accounted for 125 of the COVID-19 deaths. Tripura now has 7,498 active cases. With the discharge of 603 patients from Govind Ballabh Pant (GBP) Hospital, the main referral facility in the state, the total number of people who were cured of the disease stands approximately at 13,559 according to health officials. On the other hand, twenty-three patients have migrated to other states.
While the state's virus positivity rate is 5.98, the recovery rate is 65.58% and the fatality rate stands at 1.10%. A total of 3, 46189 samples have been tested for COVID-19 so far. Incidentally the health experts are of the opinion that there would be a surge in cases if the number of virus detection tests is increased in the state as the norms of social distancing are not being maintained and only a handful of people are habituated to wearing masks.
However, the most disturbing fact in Tripura is that people who are getting admitted in the hospitals are dying uncared, untreated, untouched and hungry.
Photos and videos of bodies of people claimed by COVID-19 lying around at GB Pant Hospital, the state's main referral hospital, have gone viral on social media.
Bodies are lying scattered in dedicated COVID hospitals of Tripura. Though I have never seen such grim things in real life I have read about similar things in history books. Shame on us- this was the essence of a post by a netizen that was accompanied by pictures.
One dead body had decomposed for three days and was dumped in a corner of the hospital ward. Moreover, no one had informed the relatives of the deceased.
The ruling BJP MLA and former health minister of Tripura, Sudip Roy Barman has alleged that the authorities, who are entrusted with the responsibility of the health department, have failed to tackle the COVID-19 situation in Tripura as a result of which people are dying untreated and uncared. "When community transmission of the virus had already begun people in the state were not getting treatment in the hospitals due to lack of coordination. It is the failure of the authorities, who are at the helm of affairs of the health department. We cannot allow people to die uncared and untreated. The chief minister should interact more frequently with the people and healthcare staff", Barman said.
Ujjayanta Palace, Tripura
Image: Ujjayanta Palace, Tripura
He alleged that one dead body had decomposed for three days and was dumped in a corner of the hospital ward. Moreover, no one had informed the relatives of the deceased. "I have photographic evidence that the body was lying in one corner of the hospital. The daughter of the deceased (after learning about her father's death three days later) had managed to get a photograph by giving money to a sweeper. I have all the documents and if anyone challenges me I shall show the documents including the photographs," Barman stated.
A fear psychosis has gripped the people about the main referral hospital and the condition of the hospitals in other districts are even worse as there are no oxygen cylinders, ventilators, PPE and other equipments. When the reporters approached the law minister Ratan Lal Nath, (who is also the state's cabinet spokesperson) for his comment about the spate of allegations he was quick to come up with a readymade solution- "Our colleagues can spend some time at the Govind Ballabh Pant Hospital on a rotational basis to interact with healthcare professionals and monitor the COVID- 19 situation"
"Every single COVID-19 death is unfortunate and undesirable. There is a spike in the number of fatalities in the country as well as in our state. If the situation demands that ministers alternately stay in the hospital to monitor and coordinate the efforts of healthcare workers then so be it," he reiterated.
CPI-M politburo member and leader of the opposition in Tripura Manik Sarkar also expressed his grave concern at the healthcare management of the state and said that people have lost faith on the public healthcare system. "There is shortage of PPE kits in the state. Doctors are afraid of going inside the COVID wards as they are not being provided with proper protective equipments. They are not to be blamed. Patients are afraid of getting treated at GBP Hospital and the long serpentine queues in front of private clinics of doctors are getting longer since people have lost faith on public healthcare system", Sarkar informed.
"Not just the Gobind Ballabh Pant hospital, all the other public hospitals too are so badly managed that people just do not want to go to hospitals. The healthcare system has collapsed in the state. The GB Pant hospital was once the pride of Tripura -synonymous with care and treatment. Ironically today admitted patients are fleeing from the hospital, because they are not getting any care and treatment", Sarkar added.Sarkar said that his party demands that the workforce should be augmented to tackle the unforeseen pandemic situation and induct doctors, nurses and paramedics immediately, who are available in the state.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) earlier this month stated that a taskforce involving medical officers and young IAS officials would be formed soon and that plasma therapy would commence in Tripura shortly. The statement also said that the Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has expressed deep concern over the corona fatalities in the state and urged healthcare personnel to bring down the death rate.



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