Healthcare workers upset over ‘no institutional quarantine’ circular


Healthcare workers in the State, including senior doctors, are upset over the Health Department’s recent circular stating that there was no need for a 14-day institutional quarantine for those working in complete personnel protection equipment (PPE) without any breach while treating COVID-19 patients.

“At a time when the infection is spreading at a fast pace and even healthcare workers are getting infected during quarantine, it is unfair that the government has said we should return home after ward duty,” said a resident doctor after finishing his seven-day duty in the COVID-19 ward of Victoria Hospital. Another doctor said, “The circular says healthcare workers who always use PPE without any breach during the treatment of COVID-19 patients are considered as low risk. But after a nurse from Victoria’s COVID-19 ward recently tested positive despite having worked in complete PPE, we are worried.”

Pointing out that two women delivered babies at Victoria Hospital last week, the doctor said, “Two of our colleagues from OBG conducted the surgeries and some of us assisted. Despite the complete protection, we are at high risk.”

Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education), told The Hindu that the circular was based on World Health Organization and Government of India guidelines. He said a similar system was being followed in other States as well, and was essential if the case load increased.

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Similarly, in another circular the department has said that high-risk contacts of positive patients treated in private hospitals should be home quarantined for 14 days, tested as per the ICMR testing protocol, and actively monitored for development of symptoms. This is also based on GOI guidelines, Mr. Akhtar said.

Representatives of private hospitals, at a recent meeting with Health Minister B. Sriramulu, had brought to his notice the fact that private hospitals were being shut down for a week by health officials upon detection of a positive case.

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Sagar Biswas

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