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Viral video of COVID patient being attacked draws ire

Viral video of COVID patient being attacked draws ire
In the video, three healthcare workers can be seen struggling to bind a patient with rope.
Correspondent IMPHAL, Nov 22 | Publish Date: 11/22/2020 11:46:37 AM IST

A body running de-addiction and rehabilitation of drug users in Manipur on Sunday blamed the state government for a recent incident in which a drug user escaping from Covid care facility was physically abused by hospital staff. In a video that went viral in the social media, a COVID-19 infected drug user was seen manhandled by some medical staff on November 19 last.

The patient was kicked and slapped before he was carried away in an ambulance with his hands tied in the back. The 3.5 Collective, running a de-addiction and rehabilitation of drug users alleged that the drug user was caught by the medical staff of COVID care centre of RIMS hospital somewhere in Imphal and manhandled in public. 

While strongly condemning the incident, the body alleged that it was the direct result of the Manipur government’s apathy and wrong policy toward drug users. Addressing a press conference at Human Rights Alert (HRA) in Imphal’s Kwakeithel, its convenor Babloo Loitongbam claimed that  the torture of drug users which went viral in social media was just the tip of an ice berg and it clearly shows the overall attitude of the society and the government towards the drug user’s community. “It is very unfortunate and is condemned in the strongest terms,” he said, adding that the incident was the fallback of the government’s failure in its policies and the lackadaisical attitude in addressing the special needs of the drug user’s community. 

“All in all, it can be rightly termed as a systematic failure of the state government in handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the state,” he said. He urged the government to address the special needs of the specific population, including the drug user’s community, while responding to the COVID pandemic so that such incidents do not recur in future.

Co-convenor Jogesh Maibam of the 3.5 Collective alleged that the state government failed to give a positive response despite submission of several representations to the authority regarding proper medical treatment to current drug users who are found to be COVID-19 positive and kept in Covid care centres (CCC).

The indifferent attitude of the government in handling the situation has led to serious chaos in the society to the extent of COVID patients running away from the treatment centres, he alleged.

The more grim part of the whole scenario was that such patients (current drug users) who are victims of coronavirus are left with no choice but to escape from the treatment centre in search of their daily doses.

“Their priority is not treatment from coronavirus but procurement of drugs at any cost since they begin to suffer from withdrawal symptoms in the absence of drugs,” he said.

They become victims of the government’s negligence and indifferent attitude, he added.

He said that during the treatment for rehabilitation of the drug users, they were given substitute drug treatment medicines to control the withdrawal symptoms which creep up the moment a drug user is denied drugs. 

These symptoms go on for over a couple of days and there was an urgent need for the patient to be provided treatment as per the need, Jogesh informed.

“However, this is not the case in any of the centres and hospitals in the state where Covid patients are kept and treated at present,” he said.

A number of unwanted incidents happened in the state wherein the drug users were targeted and being victimised. There had numerous incidents where drug users have reportedly fled from Covid care centres but were later caught and action was taken up by the public as well as the staff concerned of the centres. 

Nobody, even the authorities concerned, did not care to investigate and acknowledge the fact that the drug users had run away from the centres not because they were not provided better food and lodgings but due to the withdrawal symptoms. 

This has clearly indicated how careless and irresponsible the authority is in dealing with the drug users community, he said.

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