Mangaluru, March 30, 2020: Employed in Mangaluru, A. Balan is worried that he can’t bring his father, a heart patient, from Payyanur in Kerala for further medical check-up at a hospital here as all 21 border places in Dakshina Kannada have been closed down in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Even ambulances from Kerala are being turned away.
“My father underwent an angioplasty in a hospital in the city a decade ago. Another angioplasty was done at the same hospital about three months ago. He came here for a check-up about 10 days ago. I have to bring him again to the same doctor for another check-up this week. I am worried now,” he told The Hindu pointing out that the Talapady check-post on National Highway 66 has been sealed for passenger vehicles, as only goods vehicles are being allowed to operate.
“How do I take him to another doctor now, as the doctor here has been treating my father for the last one decade?” he asked. “It is unfair that even ambulances are not being allowed to enter the borders to reach Mangaluru,” he said.
Mr. Balan said that after an ambulance was turned away on Friday at the Kerala border a woman was delivered of a baby onboard. An elderly woman died in a hospital in Kasaragod on Saturday after the ambulance carrying her was denied entry at Talapady, he said.
There are many heart and cancer patients from North Kerala who regularly visit Mangaluru to meet their regular doctors. Now, such patients are being denied entry at the borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Many people like me are worried,” he said.
Govt. move justified
Justifying the government’s decision, a senior physician, who has been in the forefront in the fight against communicable diseases in the city and who did not want his name to be mentioned, said that the government is taking steps similar to what China did in Wuhan.
“China carried out cluster lockdown to prevent the migration of people from regions which reported positive cases. The Karnataka government is doing the same thing here by closing down the borders as a precaution,” he said.
Another private family physician in the city who concurred with the government’s ban said: “You don’t know whether the patient or his caretakers are infected. To save the life of such patients, we cannot run the risk of endangering the lives of others,” he said.
The two doctors said that Kerala should make arrangements for cardiac, cancer and other patients from North Kerala requiring regular treatment within its borders. The follow-up treatment can be devised by doctors in Kerala in consultation with doctors from Mangaluru who have been treating such patients, they said.
“This is a scientific way of looking at the issue, which unfortunately is being politicised,” another physician said.
Dakshina Kannada Member of Parliament Nalin Kumar Kateel and Minister in-charge of Dakshina Kannada Kota Srinivasa Poojary told reporters here on Sunday that the State government will not allow even ambulances from Kerala to enter Mangaluru. There is no change in the stand. “Even Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is firm on it to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” they said.