Tamil Nadu Neurosurgeon dies of COVID-19, TNGDA condemns locals protesting his burial
"Is this the reward for our selfless commitment for the fight against the deadly SARS-COV2 virus?" questioned Dr K Senthil,
Chennai: Coronavirus has claimed the life of yet another doctor from the state of Tamil Nadu and once again outrage was witnessed from the locals over the cremation of the dead body. Recently, a 55-year-old neurosurgeon, Dr Simon Hercules had succumbed to COVID-19 at a private hospital in Chennai. According to recent media reports, the neurosurgeon was also the chief doctor and director at a private hospital in the city. He got infected with the virus when he unsuspectedly treated at a patient.
The doctor was critical for the past few days and was put on ventilator support and died due to the viral disease. When his body was taken to a crematorium, the locals there held a protest against the funeral fearing the spread of the virus. They also attacked the ambulance and healthcare officials. Later police arrived at the scene and the doctor's body was buried.
This opposition from the locals to the final rites of the doctors who died due to COVID-19 has shocked the medical community. Subsequently, the Tamil Nadu Govt Doctors Association (TNGDA) and Indian Medical Association (IMA) have come forward showing resentment.
In their official statement, the TNGDA has stated, "TNGDA condemns the action of unruly mob preventing the burial of Dr Simon yesterday. The TNGDA demands and regrets that this being the third such incident of problems with the burial of doctors, Govt should have provided adequate security. We demand stern action against these persons under stringent acts." The fact is the dead body packed is least infective and the ignorant mob agitating against decent burial needs very stern action. The treatment of even a mild COVID patient is several-fold riskier for the HCPs. But still, we do the same with dedication and responsibility, it added.
Speaking to Medical Dialogues about the incident, Dr K Senthil State President, TNGDA stated, "Already the Govt sector is overburdened with COVID and NonCovid emergencies as most private sector institutions have downed their shutters. At this juncture, such disheartening incidences will de-motivate the doctors and other HCPs. The TNGDA demands proper action against the perpetrators and protection in all unfortunate future incidents. Why only to Doctors? Is this the reward for our selfless commitment for the fight against the deadly SARS-COV2 virus?"
TNGDA cautions the public about the situation if HCPs and other players in this anti-COVID war starts thinking about their own safety by this heartless behaviour of certain group, he added.
Furthermore, the IMA said in a press statement that it has taken serious note of the incidents in Chennai where the cremation of doctors was obstructed, exposing the helplessness of the state government. "It is a matter of great concern that these doctors who had died in their line of duty be treated shabbily and in such an uncivilised manner," the IMA stated.
The association also slammed the state governments, saying "if the governments do not have the power to stop such incidents, they lose their moral right to govern."
Speaking about the atrocities faced by the healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, IMA President Rajan Sharma told IANS, "IMA has shown much restraint in spite of extreme provocations. That doesn't mean our patience is endless. Abuse, violence, spitting, pelting of stones, denial of entry to societies and residential accommodations have been tolerated so far since we expected the governments to do their normal duty. "When they are unable to discharge their constitutional obligations, perhaps these are not normal times. Denial of dignity in death is the ultimate sacrilege."
Sharma also blamed the government for not giving proper attention to the issues faced by the doctors amid the pandemic situation. According to both the associations, government doctors are risking their own lives with the available poor quality and inadequate protective gears in treating the patients.
TNGDA has demanded supply of proper specified protective gears immediately to all HCPs doing COVID duties. "All HCPs should be provided suitable isolated individual accommodation and supply of food and adequate quarantine to reduce the risk of spread during incubation/ asymptomatic period and to reduce the viral load," Dr Senthil stated.
"The doctors are rendering services at extreme risk to themselves. No nation sends its army to war without weapons. Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers of this country have been sent to fight against COVID-19 without PPE kits and they are dying young defending their people. If the value of such services is not realised, the easiest thing for the doctor community will be to sit at home. The bigger sufferers will be the community," stated the IMA.
IMA Secretary General R.V. Asokan said, "While all other interventions have already been withdrawn, it is very unfortunate if more services are going to be withheld for non-medical reasons. The state governments concerned are better warned to perform their constitutional duties as expected. Failing which IMA has no option but to resort to drastic steps to protect the rights of the medical professionals. Appropriate retaliatory measures will be decided if the constitutional machinery breaks down."
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu police have arrested 20 persons for attacking an ambulance and also for protesting against the funeral of a doctor.
With the death of the neurosurgeon, the total fatalities in Tamil Nadu has risen to 16. The doctor's daughter had also contracted the virus but is now reported to be stable.
The death of the doctor comes days after the passing away of an orthopaedic surgeon (in Chennai) from Nellore district in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and the locals had observed a similar protest during the cremation of the deceased doctor.