The issue was highlighted by senior officials, including health services director Dr Aman Warr, Shillong Civil Hospital medical superintendent Dr Andreas Dkhar and NEIGRIHMS director Dr P Bhattacharya.
Dr Warr said there are many health workers and lab technicians who have come forward to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the same time, many of them have tested positive for COVID-19 while providing treatment to the patients,” he added.
At the Shillong Civil Hospital, two doctors have tested positive for COVID-19. While one of the doctors has recovered since then, the other tested positive on May 12, said medical superintendent Dr Dkhar. He added that three nurses in the hospital have also tested positive for COVID-19.
When asked if the rising number of COVID-19 cases among health workers is a cause for concern, Dr Dkhar said, “Definitely. Two of these doctors are COVID-19 warriors, it will create a shortage of doctors. While two of the infected nurses are not from the COVID-19 ward, there will be a shortage of staff. But in such cases, we normally inform the higher authorities and they look into the matter.”
So far, three doctors have been assigned COVID-19 duty at the civil hospital in Shillong which has 83 beds in the COVID-19 ward. Dr Dkhar informed added: “We don’t generally deputy aged doctors on COVID duty, only young ones are assigned.”
When asked if they usually contract the virus while looking after the patients, Dr Dkhar said it is unlikely. “Those working at COVID-19 wards put on their PPE [Personal Protective Equipment]. Some of them have tested positive if their PPEs have been breached. But what we have seen is that health workers working at other sections are also testing positive,” Dr Dkhar said.
He highlighted that eating together may be one of the reasons why health workers are contracting the virus. “The worst thing is that while eating when on duty, they sit together and eat. We are also trying to restrict one patient to one attendant. But still the people don’t seem to understand the situation,” said Dr Dkhar.
Meanwhile, Dr P Bhattacharya said that at NEIGRIHMS, health workers who have tested positive are usually contracting the virus from outside.
Dr Bhattacharya said that they had one patient who was operated on at NEIGRIHMS. From the attendant, who picked it [COVID-19] up from outside, the health workers contracted the virus. “The hospital has not yet seen any case of COVID-19 patients directly related to work,” he added.
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