COVID-19: IMA seeks safety for doctors after 300 health professionals get infected in Bihar

Patna: A large number of doctors and health professionals leading the battle against the deadly COVID-19 have been infected with the virus in Bihar. Alarmed at the situation, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), a national organisation of doctors, have sought adequate safety for the community on the frontline of the battle against pandemic.

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IMA officials said around 300 doctors and health workers are currently infected with Coronavirus and have been admitted to various hospitals for treatment. This has caused a fairly new problem before the general COVID-19 patients who are either being denied entry to the hospitals or being told to stay in home quarantine.

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“Around 300 doctors and health professionals have been infected and two have died from coronavirus in Bihar so far, and the whole situation is getting serious by the day,” IMA’s senior Vice-president Dr Ajay Kumar told Gulf News. “They (doctors and health workers) are in regular touch with the patients coming to the hospitals for treatment and technicians in charge of sample testing, and hence getting infected. We are the most vulnerable community as of now,” he added. He also blamed supply of sub-standard PPE kits and gloves behind the spread of the virus among the doctor community.

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On Thursday, a delegation of IMA officials headed by Dr Bimal Kumar Karak, Bihar unit president, called on health minister Mangal Pandey and submitted a two-page memorandum to the minister, seeking adequate safety to the doctors on the job. “We have demanded mandatory Covid-19 tests for all doctors and health workers at a gap of 15 days and another 15-day rest for health professionals deputed in the Corona ward,” IMA secretary Dr Sunil Kumar said. He said they have also demanded that 50 per cent beds be reserved for doctors and health professionals at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), one of the two Patna-based hospitals declared as dedicated Covid-19 hospitals.

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Former IMA president Shahjanand Singh appealed to the state government to initiate some urgent steps to save doctors from the virus. “Doctors are coming in grip of the virus despite taking all precautions and maintaining the protocol. They have been in regular contacts with the patients and very obviously are getting exposed to the virus,” Dr Singh said. “Please save us, we are feeling very unsafe,” he said.

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The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that the two top health officials, such as Director in Chief (Disease Control, Public Health and Paramedical) Dr Naveen Chandra Prasad and Patna-based Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) director Dr NR Biswas are currently infected with Covid-19. Of the two officials, Dr Biswas was shifted to the AIIMS on Sunday after his condition deteriorated. Officials of the Bihar health minister and state principal health secretary too have got infected.

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Apart from them, more than 60 doctors, technicians, nurses, laboratory technicians and other health workers from Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), one of the premier healthy institutes located in the state capital are down with corona strikes. The chief matron of the PMCH too has been found infected.

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Health officials said the health system would be in total disarray if some urgent measures were not initiated to save the health professionals leading a battle against the cororavirus. The present situation is not better either as the laboratories of Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS), AIIMS, PMCH and IGIMS are being shut more frequently for fumigation with the doctors and technicians getting positive. Two other Patna’s hospitals, Mahavir Cancer Institute and Guru Govind Singh Hospitals too have been shut for a week after some health workers were found positive during screening.

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Bihar surveillance officer Dr Ragini Mishra said there is nothing to worry. “We have sets of doctors’ teams—Frontline team and Second-line team. So, the moment the Frontline team is quarantined, the second will automatically take charge,” Dr Mishra said.

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There are a total of about 20,000 doctors and 40,000-50,000 health staff in the state, according to an IMA official. But what remains a matter of concern is that the Covid-19 cases have registered a 44 percent increase in the past 45 days. According to a report of the Bihar health department, the total number of Covid-19 cases which was recorded at only 485 on May 01 has now climbed to more than 26,000.

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