Friday, March 31

Locked down, Kolkata virologist works for free in Dhanbad

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As the coal belt grapples with a short-age of healthcare workers and infrastructure amid a spike in coronavirus cases, a young woman virologist stranded in Dhanbad for more than four months has been prov-iding her expertise at the microbiology department at Patliputra Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) with-out charging a penny for her services.
Ritika Thakur, who works at the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) in Kolkata, was home on vacation in Dhanbad when the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25. On April 20, the 28-year old daughter of a Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) employee, started working voluntarily at the hospital. She is now a part of a five-member team that tests the swab samples of suspected Covid-19 cases for 12 hours from 9am every day.

“PMCH was not recru-iting medical professionals in April. A friend of my father, a doctor, introduced me PMCH principal Dr Shailendra Kumar. Dr U K Ojha, head of the department of medicine, interviewed me and I started working at the hospital,” Ritika, who completed her masters course in clinical virology from Manipal Institute of Clinical Virology in 2017, told TOI.

Thakur said it is a challenge for the small team to handle the large numbers of samples coming in from eight districts, including Dhanbad. “A lot of people depend on us and I ensure that I do not make mistakes while testing. This is my way of serving the society and I have not asked for any remuneration for my will work. I will continue working here till the lockdown ends.”

Thakur has made a learning opportunity of the adverse circumstances she is in. “I look at the pandemic as a chance to learn — a lot questions are being asked about the virus due to the apprehensions among the common people and the administrative officials and new lines of diagnosis and treatment are emerging rapidly,” she said.

Dhanbad deputy commissioner Uma Shankar Singh has applauded Thakur’s contribution to the battle against the virus. During a visit to PMCH on Sunday, Singh asked the hospital authorities to give Thakur an honorarium for the days she worked as a token of appreciation. “She has been contributing to our efforts to contain the virus for three months without any remuneration. We acknowledge her passion and dedication,” Singh said.

Source: Times of India

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