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AAPI Fights the ‘Rakshas Virus’

Nearly 100,000 Physicians of Indian origin in the United States serve every seventh patient across the United States – This powerful statistic shared by  Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Vice president of AAPIUSA at a recent teleconference, underscores the significant numbers of Indian American medical professionals involved in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

The teleconference on Friday, March 27, 2020  was jointly organized by AAPI, the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, and the National Council of Asian Indian Americans (NCAIA).

“While COVID-19 continues to disrupt life around the globe, AAPI is committed to helping its tens of thousands of members across the US and others across the globe,” said Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of AAPI. “We do acknowledge that these are challenging times, more than ever for us, physicians, who are on the frontline to assess, diagnose and treat people who are affected by this deadly pandemic, COVID-19. Many of our colleagues have sacrificed their lives in order to save those impacted by this pandemic around the world.”

The numbers are grim. Coronavirus deaths in the US  are over 3000  (exceeding the initial death toll of September 11), while over 175,000  people have tested positive for the virus – more than double that announced by China.

In response to the pandemic, AAPI has embarked on several initiatives, the most effective being a twice weekly conference call attended by  over 2,000 physicians from across the United States,  to share expertise and best care practices with other professionals from the healthcare sector.

Nearly 200,000 Indian students in the US are impacted by the pandemic, said Anurag Kumar, Minister of Community Affairs, who outlined efforts to give them assistance.

“We are coordinating with the community and hotels owned by AAHOA members in arranging accommodation for students, “ he said. “Everyone is advised not to travel abroad and back to India, stay where you are until things get better.”

Speakers on the forum highlighted the need for the people to recognize that Covid-19 is an aggressive type of virus. “Everyone needs to take appropriate precautions. Even if symptoms are negative, one is likely they carry symptoms,” advised Dr. Bharat Barai.

Social distancing matters cautioned Dr. Prasad Garimella, a critical care medicine specialist . “Social distancing is not isolating. Keep in touch with loved ones. Stay busy and stay connected. Filter and assess the news, look for credible sources to rely upon. Everyone needs to act like a health care professional and need to have the best attitude in order to defeat this deadly virus.”

Emergency medicine specialist Dr. Arunachalam Einstein endorsed  self-quarantine and masks as a way to prevent spreading. “Go out only for essential things,” he advised. “ Everyone coming to ED symptomatic and non-symptomatic and the staff must wear mask, which will prevent droplets from affecting others.   Even when going out to grocery shopping use masks.”

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, expressed concern about the adverse effect of inadequate testing for at risk seniors, as well as for physicians  and healthcare workers fighting infection on the frontlines, stating  “It’s essential to create a wholesale expansion of free COVID-19 testing available in order for identifying asymptomatic carries and then isolating them.”

A rising number of people across age groups are affected by the highly infectious virus, said Dr. Usha Rani Karumudii, an infectious disease specialist, reporting that “People of all ages are prone to the disease. Hand hygiene and social distancing will help prevent. Precautions while shopping, reduce trips. wash and decontaminate hands after going out.”

AAPI also has launched a DONATE A MASK PROGRAM – a major initiative to protect the medical fraternity as they combat the “rakshas” virus.  Members were requested to donate generously to fight “this ferocious virus which has put basic existence of entire human race at stake.”

A severe shortage of GS masks and other protective gear is impacting  “the foot soldiers and front line physicians,” some of whom have succumbed to the deadly virus. A donation box labelled “DONATE A MASK,” has been added to the AAPI website ands a task force established to identify hospitals and direct supplies of Masks/PPE.

Updates  on AAPI initiatives  can be found at  www.appiusa.org

 

 

 

Update: Indian Travel Ban Extended

According to the latest Travel Advisory, all scheduled international commercial passenger services to India shall remain closed till 1830 hrs GMT of April 14, 2020. In view of these temporary travel restrictions, all Indian nationals are advised to:

I. Stay safe and isolated within the residential premises and follow the advisories updated on CDC web site https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/ and other state and federal advisories relevant to COVID19.

II. Please follow social distancing norms and avoid any non-essential local travel.

III. Approach the local health department officials in case you or your family member(s) experience any of the symptoms mentioned in the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

IV. For extension of visa in the US during this restriction period, please apply online at USCIS website https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay and and http://uscis.gov/coronavirus. This is per the advice of concerned US authorities, with whom, the Embassy is also in touch.

V. Please also continue to check the website of the Embassy of India in Washington DC (www.indianembassyusa.gov.in) and social media (Twitter & Facebook) for latest updates. In case required, please contact the Indian Embassy or one of Indian Consulates depending upon your location in the US at the 24/7 helpline details mentioned in our previous article here.

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