Panic leads to rush

  • Rhythma Kaul, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 12, 2009 23:25 IST

As many as 770 people turned up for H1N1 screening test at Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) in Central Delhi on Wednesday, forcing the hospital to deploy the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to manage the crowd.

The hospital is one of the 16 centres where people are being screened for swine flu.

Doctors at the hospital sent most people back after initial screening. Only 84 samples were collected for testing.

“A crowd of 250 people suddenly gathered and became unruly on Tuesday, so we had to call for help. We asked Delhi Police for help, which sent the CRPF,” said Dr N.K. Chaturvedi, medical superintendent, RML Hospital.

From 20 odd people visiting the hospital with symptoms of H1N1 two weeks ago, the hospital is now getting about 800 people every day.

Smaller hospitals like Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital in Mayur Vihar-II are getting about 200 persons a day. Before the panic, the number was two a day!

In each of the 16 hospitals designated for tests, the number of people who actually need to undergo swine flu tests is less than 5 per cent.

“Unnecessary panic is driving people to get tested. Please stay home, unless there has been exposure to someone who tested positive,” said Vineet Chawdhry, joint secretary, ministry of health.

Double standards

The health ministry has different standards for its hospitals and the private ones.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad directed private hospitals and labs to have separate waiting areas for people turning up for H1N1 tests.

But most designated government hospitals in Delhi are not following this rule. The suspected cases report to general casualty before being directed to the screening centres.

“Most of these hospitals are following guidelines and one or two may be bound by certain limitations, like the structure of the building, etc.,” said Kiran Walia, state health minister.


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