As the migrant laborers started queuing up for forms and required medical check-ups, some doctors are issuing 100 to 500 certificates in the range of Rs 200 to Rs 500 as fees. After the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation issued a circular directing all its medical facilities to issue the mandatory medical certificate to migrants wishing to go back home, many private doctors too have started this business. As the circular said all medical colleges, peripheral hospitals and municipal dispensaries could issue the certificate after taking a clinical examination and attesting that the person does not have any influenza like symptoms. It said the regular patients should be treated on priority and that medical dispensaries should fix certain hours for the purpose of issuing these certificates. In different parts of the city, workers have been told to make their own arrangements for the certificate, while in other parts they have been informed of medical camps for their group. The private doctors, by maintaining good distance ask patients only three questions, is the patient suffering cold, cough or fever, to which obviously the person says NO! And then go to next counter, pay the fees and seek certificate. Even BAMS and BHMS doctors are issuing these certificates.
When we spoke to Mumbai Mayor, Kishori Pednekar she said, “The DCP of every zone has issued such orders and that’s how these migrants are seeking certificates from available doctors. The police department should also keep check on the authenticity of such doctors. Meanwhile, I will inform this development to concerned department so that the action can be taken against such doctors.”
Dr. Deepak Chaturvedi, M.D. (Medicine) and President of Being Doctors said, “In the current situation of chaos of migrants and travellers everywhere, there is burden on the doctors to issue certificates to the people about ‘Corona Covid-19’. The guidelines are yet to come.”
He further stated that, “Who can issue such certificates is an important question. Can B.A.M.S.; B.H.M.S. doctors issue such certificates? Can such certificates be issued simply on history given by the patient and/or clinical picture? Can such certificates be issued without doing the lab test for Corona Covid-19? If the lab test for Corona Covid-19 needs to be done then who would bear the cost of the test?”
“What if Corona Covid test is not done and the certificate of travel is issued to a “Asymptomatic corona Covid-19 carrier?” What is the Medico legal liabilities of doctors issuing such certificates? Can a Doctor charge money for issuing such certificates? There are many such unanswered questions. The guidelines should be released very clearly from the authorities”, Dr. Chaturvedi added.
Dr. Anshuman Manaswi told Afternoon Voice, “Without the lab test of RTPCR or the Rapid test, nobody can say absolutely confirmed that this is a COVID positive or COVID negative patient. And those tests also have some false-negative results. So, to definitely say that this patient is positive or negative requires test, sometimes repeated the test. Now that is not possible that as so many tests are not available, so many kits are not available, as well as the charges are so high so there are various limitations. Now when a person comes to a doctor for a certificate, the doctor can only base his certificate on a few questions, which are the symptoms, if he has any symptoms of COVID, suggestive of a disease that is like COVID.”
Dr. Shilpa Ambekar (MD) says, “It is good that the medical check-up camps have started across Mumbai, but no doctor should violate medical ethics. Just certifying a person COVID negative on verbal questioning is a threat to the entire society. The government should take immediate action against such doctors who are doing such malpractices.”
Migrant traveller Vijay Panchal told us, “We were told to get a certificate so we got it done from a private doctor. We had to pay ₹200 each, which all of us had to borrow. In spite of all struggles not everyone had managed to get a certificate, and the group could submit its form only when everyone had one. I am trying to go back to Rajasthan from past 15 days. I want to go back home and each day has been nothing short of hell. Government is just issuing statements, but the ground reality is very horrible.”