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Final-year MBBS students may be called for Covid duty

The Prime Minister reviewed ways to augment human resources for effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country

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New Delhi: Medical students may be roped in to boost India’s response to the coronavirus crisis, government sources said on Sunday after a meeting led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review efforts to contain the surge in COVID-19 cases that has overwhelmed the country and its healthcare system.

The Prime Minister reviewed ways to augment human resources for effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, sources said following the meeting that was attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, the Health Secretary and other officials.

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“In the meeting, many steps to incentivize students and pass-outs of medical and nursing courses to join Covid duty were taken, details of which will come out tomorrow,” the NDTV quoted sources as saying.

“Decisions may include delaying NEET and incentivising MBBS pass-outs studying for it to join Covid duty. The decisions may also include utilizing services of final year MBBS and nursing students in Covid Duty. Those medical personnel doing Covid duty will be given preference in government recruitment as well as a financial incentive,” they added.

The meeting came amid reports of healthcare personnel feeling overwhelmed in some parts of the country due to the surge in the COVID-19 cases, with testing facilities also strained.

On Saturday, a doctor was among 12 people who died at Delhi’s Batra Hospital after the facility ran out of medical oxygen – for the second time in the space of a week. Separately, a resident doctor at a private hospital in the capital died by suicide due to severe stress.

The second COVID-19 wave in India has overwhelmed hospitals, morgues and crematoriums and left families scrambling for scarce medicines and oxygen. And while India is the world’s biggest producer of COVID-19 vaccines, shortages of the shots in some states have hindered the start of a mass vaccination drive.

Ahead of the surge in cases, leaders of all political parties, including PM Modi, led political rallies at which large crowds flouted rules on social distancing and mask-wearing.

Some experts blame the rallies and mass religious gatherings attended by millions for the severity of the second wave.

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