Facing outrage, Ghaziabad high-rise withdraws notice to stop entry of doctors, healthcare workers
The owners association of a high-rise in Vaishali withdrew a notice asking doctors and healthcare workers living in the complex to stay in Delhi until the end of the Covid-19 lockdown after the measure was strongly criticised on social media.
The Neelpadam Kunj Apartment Owners Association issued a communication on May 7 for stopping the entry and exit of doctors and healthcare workers from May 10, and asked them to make temporary arrangements for staying in Delhi while the lockdown is in force.
The association withdrew the notice within hours after it was criticised by netizens on Thursday night following its circulation on social media. It issued another communication in which it said its “advisory notice was issued on the evening of May 7, 2020 by mistake and has been withdrawn in the night of May 7, 2020”.
The association’s office-bearers said their communication to residents was based on a notification issued by Ghaziabad’s municipal commissioner to his zonal in-charges on May 5.
The municipal commissioner’s notification had said the zonal in-charges should get in touch with RWAs and local councillors and request doctors and healthcare workers, who live in Ghaziabad and work in Delhi, to make arrangements for their stay in the national capital during the lockdown.
“We had issued a letter on Thursday evening on the basis of the letter issued by the municipal commissioner. But our letter was withdrawn on Thursday night and another letter was issued about the withdrawal of our first letter. We didn’t have clarity about the letter from the municipal commissioner, which was in the form of an appeal and non-binding,” said Ram Tiwari, president of the board of managers of the association.
He said about 35 families live in Neelpadam Kunj, one of the oldest high-rises in Ghaziabad that comprises 568 flats.
“Our first letter was also in the form of an advisory and never implemented. It was to be implemented from May 10. But no doctors or paramedical staff or healthcare workers were stopped from our side. We have one positive case in our high-rise and the patient’s family members have tested negative and returned home. This is why the administration sealed a portion of the building,” Tiwari said.
Other owners’ associations and RWAs have not implemented the municipal commissioner’s appeal. The controversy started after Ghaziabad’s chief medical officer NK Gupta wrote a letter on April 30 with the heading “appeal” to municipal commissioner Dinesh Chandra.
Gupta’s letter came in the wake of a number of Covid-19 cases in Ghaziabad attributed to medically acquired infections. Other cases in Ghaziabad are also related to doctors and healthcare workers getting infected and their neighbourhoods being sealed.
On May 5, Chandra forwarded Gupta’s letter to his zonal in-charges. He maintained his letter was an appeal and RWAs and councillors were to make “humble appeals” to doctors and healthcare workers. He told HT on Thursday the letter was issued in public interest and wasn’t binding.
“We have also reiterated this to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Ghaziabad. The appeal is non-binding. But it was issued with an intention to prevent people in high-rises from getting infected through medically acquired infections,” Gupta said, adding 25% of cases in the district are linked to medically acquired infections.
The IMA’s office-bearers will hold a meeting with the Ghaziabad district magistrate on Friday to discuss the issue.
“Doctors and healthcare personnel are taking best possible precautions about infections. We feel the issue should have been taken up at the government level (UP and Delhi governments) to make arrangements for doctors and healthcare workers and should not have been publicised. It should have been for other people involved in providing essential services,” said IMA Ghaziabad president VB Jindal.
“We don’t want such a stigma which may be seen as discrimination. We feel RWAs or councillors shouldn’t be given powers to restrict doctors,” he added.
The Ghaziabad district magistrate had issued orders for strict sealing of the border with Delhi and cited six positive cases that emerged after local residents travelled to the national capital. On April 26, the district magistrate issued an advisory to commuters going to Delhi to leave Ghaziabad’s borders by 9am and come back only after 6pm.