Hyderabad: As the fight against Covid-19 enters a critical phase, ensuring safety of healthcare workers (HCWs) has now become vital in Telangana.
The response to contain Covid-19 depends on the well-being of front-line workers and senior doctors in Hyderabad have said that staff at government hospitals are being constantly counselled and being made aware of the clear and present danger of the Covid-19 infection.
It is a known fact that, HCWs are at an elevated risk of contracting Covid-19. In times of pandemic, care giving also entails the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection to HCWs from asymptomatic individuals who are not necessarily undergoing invasive procedures.
A countrywide analysis of health care workers, which was conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) at the end of May, has said that 5 per cent of the health care workers were confirmed Covid-19 positive. The ICMR analysed medical records of 21,402 heath care workers out of which 1,073 i.e. 5 per cent were confirmed Covid-19.
Senior health officials have acknowledged that government hospitals in Telangana were aware of the 5 per cent risk while discharging health care services to suspected and positive Covid-19 cases.
With no specific treatment available against Covid-19, physical distancing, face masks and frequent hand washing with sanitizers and soap are the infection prevention measures that are targeted at general population. However, HCWs who are exposed to a higher quantum of risk need additional intervention approaches for protection in the forms of aprons, gowns, gloves, masks, face shields and goggles.
These protective gears serve useful purpose in settings where procedures such as nasopharyngeal swab collection, endotracheal intubation or respiratory suctioning are performed on suspected or confirmed patients, potentially generating aerosols from the respiratory tract. Apart from all these, chemoprophylaxis in the form of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) also has been advocated by the ICMR.
“There is no doubt that doctors, nurses, ward boys and other front line workers are high risk groups while fighting a pandemic. No matter how cautious you are, there is always a risk of infection lurking somewhere. As a precautionary measure, half of our workers are in quarantine while the other half is on duty. We have enough masks, gloves and PPE equipment. We are also training our nurses, class IV employees and sanitation staff on how to discharge their duties safely,” said OGH Superintendent Dr B Nagender.
The National Task Force for Covid-19 in India recommended the use of HCQ as prophylaxis against Covid-19 infections in asymptomatic HCWs treating suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases.
“All our staff is wearing PPE round-the-clock while handling suspected and confirmed Covid-19 patients. We are handling anywhere between 200 and 300 suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases on daily basis. So far, none of our staff have tested positive but that doesn’t mean we will relax even a bit,” said Dr Mallikarjuna, Superintendent, King Koti Hospital.