As of June 12, India has the fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases. The coronavirus dashboard on Johns Hopkins University indicates India has over 3 lakh cases. While the debate on the effectiveness of the lockdown and the possible impact of unlocking the economy continues, the capacity of medical infrastructure in New Delhi seems to fall short. Issues like the shortage of hospital beds, unaffordable cost of treatment in private hospitals are frequently discussed on social media. In one such instance on June 11, a notice that appears to be issued by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital has gone viral.
The notice states, “As per ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) guideline, the contacts of COVID+ cases should be put on HOME ISOLATION even with mild symptoms.” The viral notice suggests to wash hands, follow social distancing and wear a mask. Additionally, it prescribes hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) 400 mg, vitamin C, zing 50 mg. As per the notice, in case of fever one should take crocin/ calpol 650 mg and in the case of throat pain, it suggests cetirizine 10 mg and syrup alex 2/3 teaspoon. This notice seems to be have been written on the prescription slip of Dr Raj Kamal Agarwal of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. It mentions his contact details and the hospital’s contact details. The notice is duly stamped by Dr Agrawal.
Alt News received several requests to fact-check this on WhatsApp (+917600011160) and on our official Android application.
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital refutes the notice
Alt News performed a keyword search and found that no such news was reported by the mainstream media. Moreover, it wasn’t reported by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare or any government official.
On June 11, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital published a tweet saying, “It has been brought to our notice that someone has circulated a fake image and forged the doctor’s signature. #SGRHIndia strongly dissociates itself from such messages.”
— Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (@sgrhindia) June 11, 2020
Alt News tried reaching out to Dr Agrawal using the mobile number mentioned on the slip. Despite multiple attempts at different intervals, we couldn’t connect because it was switched off. Next, we called on the hospital’s number mentioned on the slip.
This time the phone rang and we learnt that the number corresponds to Sir Ganga Ram Coalmet Hospital in Rajinder Nagar. The front office staff shared with us the number of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) and we subsequently connected with on-duty doctor Varun who confirmed that the hospital has not released such a document. He said that it could be photoshopped. When we asked about Dr Aggarwal, Varun said that he is associated with SGRH but has not issued the prescription.
On June 12, Dr Aggarwal spoke with Hindustan Times and denied writing the prescription. He added that people should not pay heed to the notice or use the medicines prescribed but consult a doctor in case of sickness.
Alt News also visited the ICMR website and found no existing guideline that recommends home isolation for people showing mild symptoms of COVID-19. The latest press release is from May 30 that is about ‘ICMR advises States to conduct sero-survey to measure Coronavirus exposure in the population using IgG ELISA Test’.
Thus, it is clear that the viral image is false and misleading. On May 21, Alt News debunked a fake WhatsApp text that attributed 21 dos and don’ts post lockdown to ICMR.