Controversy over COVID-19 patient

Spl. Correspondent GUWAHATI, APR 24 (NPN) | Publish Date: 4/24/2020 11:55:18 AM IST

Several reports on the status of a patient from Dimapur (Nagaland) who was referred to Guwahati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH) on April 11 and then tested COVID-19 positive on April 12, have added a twist to the case due to contradictory claims.

Earlier, rumours claimed that the patient was actually tested negative for COVID-19 at the Guwahati Medical College & Hospital. Later it went viral on social media and followed up by a section of the media, which reported that the patient was tested negative for COVID-19 in the second test.

In order to confirm facts from GMCH, Nagaland Post contacted a senior official at the hospital and published a report on April 22. The GMCH official had also confirmed to Nagaland Post, that the patient was tested positive for COVID-19 on April 12 and again tested positive in the second test done within seven days.  GMCH official also informed that the third test was due on Day 14 (or sometime by the last week of April). The newspaper also reported that the patient who was in critical condition had shown marked improvement and was shifted out of the ICU into the isolation ward of the hospital.

The matter, however, took another turn on April 23, when the secretary health and family welfare, speaking on behalf of the department, told media at a briefing that the patient had been tested for positive for COVID-19 three times. The secretary said while the first test was positive, the second was negative and third again positive. The secretary had also informed that the fourth test was due in a few days.

Following the contradictions, Nagaland Post again contacted GMCH authorities on Friday for a factual status of the patient.  GMCH source reaffirmed information based on which this newspaper had based its report and also adding that the third test was yet to be done.

When asked to respond to the claims made by the Secretary H&FW of Nagaland, the GMCH authorities said they would prefer not to react as they were not privy to the claims made by the Nagaland government official.

“They (Nagaland health officials) perhaps misinterpreted our report, but I would not like to comment on that. The patient is now recovering well and we will carry out the third test on him on Day 14,” a senior GMCH official remarked.

Besides the controversy over his medical status vis-a-vis COVID-19, the patient from Dimapur has not been listed under either Assam or Nagaland and thus excluded from both the lists. 

Assam maintains that the status of the patient referred from Dimapur and tested positive in GMCH, should be included under Nagaland. According to a health worker, a student or employee from another state and working in a permanent job in Assam and who is tested positive for COVID-19 can be included under the state.

On the other hand, the Nagaland government was disinclined to include the patient’s case under the state on the ground that the testing for COVID-19 was done in Guwahati.

Meanwhile, a report by The New Indian Express said that Assam’s figures updated by the state’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Twitter did not include the case from Nagaland. 

Sarma told journalists, “I stand by my tweets,” reported TNIE.

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio told this newspaper on Friday, “I cannot comment if it is the responsibility of Assam to count him. I don’t take the blame either (for not counting it as Nagaland’s case).”

He agreed that the case   referred but said the man was referred from Nagaland as a patient and not as a COVID-19 positive. So, those medical terms will come into effect, he said.

“We are checking up with Assam. Since he was found positive in Guwahati, it is proper to record him as he is undergoing treatment there. If he is shifted to Nagaland, we have to keep that record with us. We will see in what manner it will go after he is discharged from the hospital,” Rio added.

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