Covid infection among health workers: Another emergency staring India

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With the rapid rise in the number of health workers getting infected with Covid-19, an emergency of another kind is starting at India.

According to media reports, about 300 health workers, including doctors, have tested positive in hospitals across the country. The maximum number of infection among doctors and nurses is seen in Mumbai and Delhi.  

While several hospitals in the two metros have been sealed, many have been functioning with infected health workers. Major hospitals like Jaslok, Wockhardt and Bhatia in Mumbai have shut operations following the spread of infection. Breach Candy, another major hospital in the city, is running a bare minimum of services.

A total of 75 healthcare workers have contracted the virus in Delhi so far. At Lok Nayak, an office-bearer of the nurses' union said the staff who tested positive Monday was one of the contacts of another 48-year-old employee who was found to be positive on Saturday.

United Nurses Association office bearers said that authorities in several hospitals were refusing to put the nurses who have come in contacted with infected patients under quarantine saying it would lead to closure of the hospitals. The major problem facing health workers in the country is the acute shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

There have been reports from West Bengal of doctors being forced to use raincoats and motorbike helmets. Several state chief ministers have been urging the union government to arrange more Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

According to a BBC report quoting HLL Lifecare Limited, a government-owned body that has been tasked to procure PPE, said that India needs at least a million PPE kits, as well as 40 million N95 masks, 20 million surgical masks and a million litres of hand sanitisers at the moment

The health ministry said on 9 April said that it had placed orders for 17 million PPE kits - which is way more than the HLL Lifecare Limited's estimates.

The ministry said it has approved 20 domestic manufacturers to produce protective gears. But it's unclear how quickly the manufacturers can meet the demand. The ministry said in a press release on 30 March that the suppliers were able to produce a total of 15,000 kits per day.

It also added that orders are being placed with foreign manufacturers from countries like Singapore and China, and some have come in the form of donations.

But the fear is that even this supply may not be enough if the pandemic spreads widely in smaller districts and towns, the BBC report said.

Image Credit: HW News

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