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Another five test positive at calcutta medical college, count up to 15

Interns blame lack of gear for Covid-19 spread
Calcutta Medical College and Hospital
Calcutta Medical College and Hospital
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Subhajoy Roy   |   Calcutta   |   Published 21.04.20, 08:54 PM

Interns at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital have blamed alleged mismanagement and lack of adequate precautionary measures for the spread of the novel coronavirus among doctors and nurses of the hospital.

Health department sources said about 15 doctors and nurses of the central Calcutta hospital tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, over the past week, five of them on Tuesday.


Of those who tested positive on Tuesday, four were nurses and one was an intern. Among the other positive cases, eight are doctors and two nurses.

An intern told Metro on Tuesday that there was a severe shortage of N-95 masks for healthcare personnel at the hospital, as a result of which they were being exposed to infection.

“Personal protective equipment (PPE), too, are in short supply. So many of us are testing positive because of mismanagement by the authorities, as a result of which we are being forced to work without the mandatory protective gear,” the intern said.

According to another, the authorities have not issued any guideline on how to screen a patient arriving at the emergency ward after the fever clinic at the hospital closes for the day at 2pm.

The interns, who earned their MBBS degrees only a few months back, rued they had been left to fend for themselves.

“By way of screening, we are asking fever patients turning up in the emergency ward a set of questions prepared on the basis of guidelines posted on the website of the Union health ministry,” said one of the interns.

Another said the fever clinic should ideally be running around the clock. “Doctors and others in the fever clinic are better protected against the virus. Round-the-clock functioning of the clinic will minimise the exposure of those of us who lack protective gear to suspected Covid cases,” he said.

Another intern recounted what happened when a patient in the gynaecological ward of the hospital tested positive earlier this month.

“The authorities sent a few doctors to quarantine and asked them to stay at the hostel, where three or four interns stay in one room. Even if they managed to maintain a distance between each other, they had no option but to use the same bathroom,” the intern said.

A senior health department official admitted lapses in quarantining contacts of positive patients.

“But the problem has been fixed. From Tuesday, each quarantined healthcare worker will have a room to himself or herself,” the official said.

“Contact-tracing of all who tested positive is being done and the contacts are being treated according to the protocol. One hundred contacts at the medical college have been tested and the results are all negative.”

Nirmal Maji, the president of the Calcutta unit of the Indian Medical Association and a minister in the Bengal government, said all steps were being taken to ensure safety of doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and other healthcare professionals.

The interns have also issued a statement saying the authorities had initially ignored their plea to be quarantined after they came in contact with a woman in the gynaecology department who had tested positive for Covid-19.

“The authorities said the healthcare providers were exposed for such a brief period that they did not need to be isolated. After repeated protests, the authorities agreed to quarantine them but asked as many as four of them to share a room,” said an intern.

The interns held meetings with the college authorities on Tuesday. A team of officials from the health department, too, met the doctors.

It was decided at one of the meeting that the interns would be split into groups and each would work for a week by rotation.

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