Doctors battling coronavirus are fuming, alleging they are being excluded (Representational)
Doctors and nurses in the frontline of the battle against coronavirus will miss the post-graduate and final exams of specialization. The rules not only allow only asymptomatic people, they also bar anyone who was in contact with coronavirus patients. Those appearing for exams also need to sign an affidavit saying so, and will be held legally liable if the information proved wrong.
The post-graduate exams for nursing, MD, MS, DM and MCH - finals for specialization and super specialization - are held every year by the AIIMS. Many junior doctors, house staff and interns give this exam across 150 centers every year.
But this year, there are some special rules for the exams scheduled on June 11.
"Only asymptomatic people with no history of contact with a COVID positive case can appear," reads the pre-exam declaration. The doctors are made to sign a declaration that they have not been in contact with COVID-19 patients and that they would be liable to legal action if we lie/hide information in the declaration.
Taken together, the rules could bar nearly 70 per cent of those appearing for the examination -- junior doctors, house staff and interns, who all have daily exposure to coronavirus patients.
Doctors battling coronavirus are fuming, alleging they are being excluded.
"Is this justice? Is this the reward for my service to the nation? One side you label doctors as heroes, you shower flowers on the doctors, on the other hand you are doing this?" said Dr Viabhav Trivedi.
Dr Rachit Singhania, who works at a dedicated coronavirus facility in Gurugram, however, considered the logic. "We could be asymptomatic and potential carriers and it could lead to widespread transmission in the exam center," he said.
There are also logistical challenges involved, with the exam centers being located far away and sometimes not accessible under the current circumstances. NDTV has accessed admit cards of a student form Delhi whose exam center is in Meerut. A student living in Pondicherry is expected to go to Tiruchirappalli, 200 km away, for the exam.
On condition of anonymity, an aspirant said there are around 200 applicants from Nepal, who cannot appear for the exam since the borders have been sealed. Besides, there are also applicants in containment zones and many others are in quarantine.
Doctors are demanding that the exam be postponed till the conditions are more favorable.
But the Director of AIIMS, Dr Randeep Guleria, said now is the only time to conduct exams, as the peak of the disease is still two to three months away. Postponing the exams now will lead to the waste of an entire academic year.
Dr Adarsh Pratap Singh, the president of the AIIMS Resident Doctors Association, has assured that all doctors can sit for the exam. "The declaration is meant to segregate doctors. The strategy is to provide frontline workers a separate room," he said.