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I Am Injured, Not Scared: Doctors Under Intense Attack In India

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After blowing conch shells, ringing bells and cheering to show solidarity with the health care workers for their laudable work to battle Covid-19, there have also been reports when doctors and health care workers have also been pelted with stones by hostile crowds.

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As India battles the Covid-19 outbreak, reports of attacks on doctors, social workers and police personnel have surfaced from various parts of India raising concerns for their safety. Although Indian Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan assured people that precautions were taken to prevent doctors from spreading coronavirus, the reality on the ground is completely opposite with doctors being assaulted and thrashed after being initially ostracized by people.

Recently, two female doctors were attacked by a mob in Indore in Madhya Pradesh after they went to check on a woman suspected of contracting the virus. The video of the attack went viral in no time drawing angry reactions from netizens.

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One of the doctors injured in the attack, Zakiya Sayed told BBC that she was undeterred by such attacks. “We were doing our usual rounds to screen suspected covid-19 infected cases. We never thought we would be attacked. I had never seen scenes like that. It was frightening. We somehow fled away. I am injured but not scared.”

Dr Sayed further said that she and her colleague had no reason to suspect that people would be angry against medics who were only trying to keep people safe. According to Sayed, they had information about a woman who had come in contact with another coronavirus infected patient. She said that they were only talking to the suspected patient when they came under attack.

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Taking cognizance of the incident, the Indore administration sprung into action and booked four men involved in the attack under the National Security Attack. Seven persons were arrested in connection with the incident and another six are being questioned.

In Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, 21 quarantined patients who had attended the recent religious congregation of Tablighi Jamaat that has emerged as a super spreader in India, misbehaved, abused and used obscene language against hospital staff. Some were walking naked in the hospital ward and were harassing women doctors and nurses and kept asking for cigarettes and tobacco, a doctor told the BBC.

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Police have registered a case after the doctors filed a complaint. Some other members of the Tablighi Jamaat who are under quarantine at a railway hospital spat at doctors.

However, the incidents are not just restricted northern parts of India, there have been reports of similar misbehaviour and attacks against doctors from other parts of the country.

In Hyderabad, relatives of a 49-year-old coronavirus patient who died at a Gandhi Government Hospital assaulted the duty doctor and the staff alleging negligence, police said. In Bihar, Police and medical personnel were attacked by locals in Munger town when they visited a locality to collect samples from people suspected to have contracted coronavirus.

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In Solapur, Maharashtra, a 56-year-old man who had informed the ‘gramsevak’ of Pimpri village about seven locals who attended the Tablighi meet was assaulted. The man had also insisted that the seven people be tested for coronavirus, police said.

Female social workers in southern city Bengaluru and a man in Mumbai were gheraoed and thrashed in separate incidents after they were surveying people who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation.

Another incident from Bengaluru saw community health workers checking suspect covid-19 cases ruffled up on Thursday. In neighbouring Mangaluru, police registered a case against four persons for assaulting two cops and a health worker.

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However, the attacks on doctors have not only happened inside hospital wards or on roads but have followed them home. One of the female doctors who spoke anonymously to the BBC told that her neighbours wanted her and her family to move out of their building.

She said she was extremely disheartened and wanted her family to be safe. Battling covid-19 outbreak on the one hand and social stigma on the other while facing a shortage of medical equipment, she added, “A number of doctors have tested positive across India and that shows how tough our job is at the moment. And that is why we need everybody’s support to win this war against coronavirus.”

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As reported earlier by EurAsian Times doctors have also faced eviction from their landlords. In fact, doctors had even written a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah demanding protection. But they are not the only ones facing the discrimination even India’s airline staff and police have faced the same problem.

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Coronavirus In Tibet: Limited Impact Of COVID-19 In High Altitude Regions Like Tibet?

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Scientists are now investigating the link between COVID-19 and high altitude regions like Tibet after a study published in the journal Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology suggested that there is a decrease in prevalence and impact of COVID-19 in populations living at higher altitudes. 

The study takes into consideration the COVID-19 cases in Tibet and high-altitude regions of Bolivia and Ecuador in comparison to the low lying regions. It suggested that the population in Bolivia, Ecuador and Tibet living above 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) reported significantly lower levels of confirmed infections than their lowland counterparts.

In the plateau region of Tibet, Qinghai and part of Sichuan, with a population of 9 million, there are only 134 confirmed cases which are drastically low in comparison to the number of cases in rest of China.

Ecuador is one of the worst-hit countries by COVID-19 in South America with more than 40,000 confirmed cases and over 3,000 deaths. The centre of the virus is the Pacific port of Guayaquil. There are fewer infected cases in the capital Quito, which is about the same size but is 2,800 metres above sea level.

Similarly, Bolivia has over 10,000 positive cases with over 300 deaths. The cases are concentrated in Santa Cruz which is 400 metres above sea level. It is home to about 15% of the population of the country but accounts for two-thirds of the virus cases. Whereas, in La Paz and its surrounding area, which is a highland area in Bolivia, has about 500 positive cases.

The reason explored by the study includes environmental factors including dry mountain air, high levels of UV radiation and the possibility that lower atmospheric pressure reduces the virus’s ability to linger in the air.

“The reason for decreased severity of the global COVID-19 outbreak at high altitude could relate to both environmental and physiological factors,” states the study.

“At sea-level, when people get coronavirus and their lungs get destroyed, it is as if they are climbing Mount Everest in just a couple of days, without oxygen,” said Gustavo Zubieta-Calleja, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology. But “the low rate of infection in Bolivia’s high-altitude population is remarkable and clearly does not follow the often exponential infection rates reported in many countries”, concluded the scientists.

However, experts have questioned these factors. “The virus likes people. It doesn’t care about altitude,” says Peter Chin-Hong, who studies infectious diseases at the University of California at San Francisco. “But we’re still learning so much about this disease, and this does provide us with some good clues to try and understand its progression,” he added.

According to Clayton Cowl, a pulmonologist at the Mayo Clinic and a former president of the American College of Chest Physicians, that the trend might be related to acclimatization, the body’s ability to adjust temporarily to altitude, than to DNA.

Just three populations in the world have been found to have genetic adaptations to altitude: Himalayans, Ethiopian highlanders and Andeans. This is why the coronavirus is exploding on Peru’s Pacific coast, particularly Lima, where most residents descend from Andean ancestors, while the country’s mountain communities are thus far not greatly affected by the virus.

Andrew Luks, professor of medicine at the University of Washington, said that while the proposed link was “intriguing”, it “by no means establishes that high-altitude residence or high-altitude locations are protective against coronavirus”.

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Pakistan Seeks Bangladesh’s Help With COVID-19; Signs Pact For Importing Medicines

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With growing cases of COVID-19, Pakistan has signed a pact Bangladeshi firm to supply a generic version of remdesivir — a broad-spectrum antiviral medication that has shown to lessen the recovery time in coronavirus patients, reports the Dawn.

The drug – remdesivir, has been permitted emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and authorities in Japan and the UK to treat patients with severe signs of COVID-19.

According to a statement released by Searle Company Limited, Pakistan, the company has signed an exclusive pact with Beximco Pharmaceuticals, Bangladesh.

It’s the first firm in the world to introduce the generic variant of the drug. Our pact will provide an instant supply of the drug at an economical rate and will assist the medics to treat COVID-19 patients without any delay, said Mohammad Sajid, officials ar Searle.

Remdesivir is a direct-acting viral drug that represses viral RNA (Ribonucleic acid) synthesis. It is administrated intravenously and is approved for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 infection – the Dawn report says.

Searle, Sajid said, was aggressively taking the matter with the government officials of Pakistan for required approvals and was positive that in the current pandemic, the authorities would treat this matter on an urgent basis to support the drug availability.

The report acknowledges that Bangladesh has made extraordinary progress in the pharmaceutical sector in recent years. Some Bangladesh-based pharmaceutical corporations, they said, were approved by the FDA and exported their products to the US.

Remdesivir is presently undergoing clinical trials around the world. Early research indicated it can cut recovery time by about four days, but so far there has been no concrete proof that it will save more lives.

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Donald Trump Suspends Ties With WHO; Slams China For COVID-19, Hong Kong

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US President Trump has announced that he is immediately suspending American membership from the World Health Organization over its response to China’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic.

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In a press briefing at the White House, Donald Trump said, “We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”

The US President said the decision end ties with WHO was because they “failed to make” reformations. Last week, Trump sent a letter to WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressing his views on how the WHO favours Beijing and urged the health body to “commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”

The U.S. is WHOs biggest contributor, providing around $450 million a year, according to Trump. The level of financing the U.S. provides to WHO has been pinching Trump, who growled at the press briefing that the U.S. pays significantly more than China, but it is Beijing that benefits at WHO (with roughly about $40 million funding to the organization).

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1262577580718395393

On Hong Kong, Trump said, “China claims it is protecting national security… Hong Kong was secure and prosperous as a free society. Beijing’s decision reverses all of that.

The US President also said he will also initiate a ban on Chinese researchers studying in the US who are recognised as possible security risks. “For years, China has conducted elicit espionage to steal our industrial secrets, of which there are many. Today I will issue a proclamation to better secure our nation’s vital university research…,” he said.

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