From a Correspondent
JORHAT, March 11: Activists of Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) on Wednesday staged an hour-long protest in front of the office of the Joint Director of Health in Jorhat in support of various demands related to the outbreak of the H1N1 Swine Flu virus in the district, besides voicing stiff protest against black marketers who are giving a commercial shape to the epidemic in a bid to derive maximum profit related to the sale of Chinese masks and creating artificial shortage.
The AJYCP activists tried to break open the gates of the Joint Directors office after the hour-long protest thus forcing the Joint Director of Health Dr Mubidur Rahman to come out and talk to them in the presence of the District Magistrate and senior police officials. The activists demanded free supply of vaccine to the people to fight the H1N1 virus, opening up of a quick response emergency cell with a helpline number, publicity by the State Government among the people to create awareness against the virus, action against unscrupulous traders selling the Chinese black mask at more than Rs 50 as against its purchase value of only Rs 3.50 per piece and proper screening and medical treatment of those affected with the virus. The protesters also displayed placards questioning Union Minister Sarbanda Sonowal’s silence on the issue of providing citizenship to illegal migrants from Bangladesh by the BJP government.
Responding to the AJYCP activists’ queries, the Joint Director of Health Services, Dr Mubidur Rahman said, “So far we have done awareness programme in five colleges and yesterday there was an emergency meeting with more than 50 headmasters of different schools at the District Educatiol Center. We have been instructed by the government to carry out lesser publicity among the public otherwise it would create panic and hence we are resorting to limited publicity. We cannot play a very aggressive role in the publicity of the H1N1 virus. Therefore, we have also called the Municipality Ward Commissioners and have guided them on a definite plan of action to create awareness among the people of their respective wards. This virus is a circulating virus and it is present in a dormant state in every human being. If the resistive power of a human being is low than he can easily fell prey and that is why we are using a gentle method of educating the people to understand the different stages of the virus and its prevention through isolation at home especially in stage 1 and 2.”
Meanwhile, three more patients including two women and an ICICI bank employee from Manipur based in Jorhat were tested positive in a test conducted at the Barua Clinical Laboratory, a wing of the Sanjivani Hospital in Jorhat using the newly inducted Real Time Micro PCR (Polymerized Chain Reaction) system and were immediately referred to the JMCH where they have now been isolated. However, by evening the Joint Director of Health, Jorhat under the instruction of the Deputy Commissioner Jorhat issued a notice to the Barua Laboratory to stop conducting any more tests thereon.
State Surveillance Officer, Dr BC Bhagawati told The Sentinel, “There are two centres equipped to conduct such test in Assam which are of B.S.L -3 and 4 standard. The H1N1 tests in these two labs are absolutely free and so far there are no instances of these two labs refusing any tests of H1N1. Besides the government cannot allow private institutions to conduct these tests which are costly and this can create panic among people. Until further orders no private hospitals will be allowed to conduct these tests.”
On the other hand, Dr Bidhan Barua, owner of Barua Clinical Laboratory in Jorhat said, “India is a free country and not a socialist country. Here any person whose has an apprehension regarding the presence of the virus in their body can approach for a test. Now I don’t understand why the government would stop us from conducting the tests which indirectly allows an affected person to seek immediate medical treatment, thus overcoming the risk factor of fatality. It takes about two days for the government lab to declare results after drawing samples in Jorhat and then sending them to Dibrugarh or Guwahati.”