In a shocking move, District Collector Samuel Anand Kumar, on Friday, ordered the arrest of a Gutur-based doctor who raised the issue of bed shortage at a Coronavirus (COVID-19) review meeting in Andhra Pradesh. Dr. Somla Naik – a primary health center (PHC) health officer from Nadendla was booked under the stringent Disaster Management Act after raising concerns at the review meeting held at Narasaraopet Hall in Guntur. His arrest was widely condemned by doctors’ associations.

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Guntur doctor arrested

Visuals from the meeting show Dr. Naik trying to resume his seat after raising the concern, but is stopped by police and other government officials. Moreover, the enraged collector is heard yelling,” Arrest him, arrest him under Disaster management sections. Take him away”, adding “How dare you say to me ‘Who are you?'”. Dr. Naik is then seen silently collecting his papers and leaving the hall.

Reports add that the collector was displeased with medical officials and held them responsible for the spread of the virus in rural parts of the district. An enraged Dr. Naik had reportedly retorted, “We are working overtime to handle the situation despite lack of facilities”, asking the collector to stop blaming medical officers. When Dr. Naik allegedly questioned Anand, “Who are you to blame the doctors? “, the collector visibly lost his cool ordering his arrest. in response, several doctors associations met with the collector and demanded the immediate release of the medical officer of Nadendla PHC.

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This is the first instance of arrest of a doctor ordered by a state official over raising COVID-19 concerns. Reports state that after detaining the doctor during the review meeting, the doctor was later freed by police officials. CM Jagan Mohan Reddy is yet to react to the situation.

Andhra’s COVID scenario

Clocking consistently over 10,000 COVID cases per day, Andhra Pradesh’s current active cases stand at 96,191 cases and 4,46,716 recoveries with 4779 fatalities. Andhra Pradesh comes at the second position in terms of COVID-19 cases in India following Maharashtra. Andhra has been consistently testing at a very high rate in a bid to trace the spread of the virus early. 

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