The Assam Health Department has decided to tweak quarantine rules for doctors and health workers deployed in COVID-19 care duties after the state chapter of Indian Medical Association wrote to Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday, urging the health department not to take "whimsical decisions".
The Assam Medical Services Association or AMSA had raised concerns after the quarantine rules for doctors and health workers were changed.
The new rules say doctors and health workers who are at COVID-19 care centres would now have to be on duty for 10 days and then quarantined for four days, a senior official said.
The rules for doctors and medics on duty at COVID-19 hospitals would be seven days of work, followed by seven days of quarantine.
On July 6, the Assam Health Department issued an order asking doctors and health workers engaged at COVID-19 care centres for continuous 11 days of work and then undergo a rapid antigen test and quarantine for three days.
Earlier, the protocol was of seven days of duty and seven days of quarantine and tests through RT-PCR or TrueNat platforms.
Health Department sources have told NDTV that the rules will get tweaked.
In COVID-19 care centres, doctors will have to be on duty for 10 days, followed by four days quarantine, but further changes on antigen tests and asymptomatic patient's isolation during COVID-19 surge might not be possible.
The IMA strongly protested the new quarantine rules for medical workers and doctors. The medical bodies were unhappy with the government's switching over to antigen tests for checking health workers, as according to the Indian Council of Medical Research this test is less sensitive.
"Already about 60 doctors and several nurses, technicians and other health workers have got infected and it's of serious concern" Dr Satyajit Borah, president of the Assam chapter of IMA, told NDTV.
They wanted home isolation for asymptomatic patients to begin. Assam is for now isolating them at COVID-19 care centre. The medical bodies believe this is adding pressure on doctors and health workers.
"They are giving only three-day quarantine. This is dangerous. What if they show symptoms on the fourth day and are infected on returning to work, they will infect others," Dr KC Talukdar, general secretary of the AMSA, told NDTV.
The AMSA has over 2,700 members in Assam; all of them are government doctors who are leading the fight against COVID-19. Mr Sarma held discussion over the work schedule and quarantine period with the Junior Doctors' Association of Guwahati Medical College. Mr Sarma later said the issue with the junior doctors has been resolved "amicably".
When contacted, both the IMA and the AMSA said they were never consulted or were called for any discussion.