Ahmedabad: All MBBS graduates under government bond in Gujarat have been asked to immediately join duty in the wake of a shortage of doctors at COVID-19 hospitals in the state.

The state government will initiate action under the Epidemic Diseases Act against the doctors who fail to join the “compulsory COVID-19 duty immediately”, said a notification issued on Monday by state health commissioner Jai Prakash Shivahare.

As per the notification, the number of beds in government hospitals has been considerably increased to cope up with the high influx of COVID-19 patients.

However, there is an acute shortage of manpower to treat the coronavirus patients against the infrastructure created by the state, said the notification.

“The state government urgently needs the services of doctors as coronavirus cases are increasing at an unprecedented pace,” Shivahare said in the notification.

“Around 1,000 such bonded doctors, who were already given appointments as Class-2 medical officers, are now required to join the duty immediately,” the order said.

Shivahare also instructed all the district collectors and municipal commissioners to take action under the Epidemic Diseases Act against the doctors who do not turn up to join the compulsory COVID-19 duty at their respective places.

Doctors under bond comprise those who have recently completed their MBBS from government-run medical colleges. MBBS pass-outs of the Gujarat Medical Education & Research Society-run colleges also fall under this category.

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As per rules, they are required to serve a specific period in rural areas under bond with the government. Many such graduates prefer to pay the bond amount, instead of working in rural areas.

Gujarat on Sunday recorded 14,296 new coronavirus cases, its highest single-day spike since the pandemic broke out, the state health department said. This increased its infection tally to 4,96,033.

The state also recorded its highest one-day COVID-19 fatality count of 157, which took the death toll to 6,328, it said.

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