Report by: Nandika Chand | Last Updated June 8, 2020
Frontline healthcare workers in Telangana are fighting a tough battle, day and night, to keep COVID-19 at bay. However, they are falling victim to the deadly virus due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
49 healthcare workers from Osmania Medical College, 26 from Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) and four from Gandhi Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19. Dr G. Srinivas, the president of NIMS Resident Doctors Association said several lab staffers, nurses and paramedics ahev also tested positive. He said doctors and staff require more protective gear. “We are also hearing that a number of doctors of private hospitals also testing positive and they are being treated at hospitals where they work,” he said.
Dr Mahesh Kumar, president of Healthcare Reforms Doctors Association, said the government is not testing enough and its policy is putting doctors and frontline workers at extreme risk.
Healthcare workers sounded the alarm from day one when they called for the need for fresh PPE. But many hospitals – government run and private both, directed them to use and continue reusing the PPE.
A nurse working at Gandhi Hospital said there has been a spike in the number of patients, after the lockdown eased, coming to the hospital. She said the existing staff are overburdened at the COVID-19 wards. Another healthcare worker said their families are panicked. “Some of us are not going home, fearing that our family members will also get infected. Whenever there is any positive case, our families are more worried about us, but we have gotten used to it and treat it like any other disease,” he said.
This is not just an alarm for Telangana but other states of India too. There are over 2 lakh confirmed COVID-19 cases in India as many states have eased lockdown. And this has caused panic among frontline healthcare workers. Hospitals are running out of beds, private hospitals are either charging hefty fees or turning patients away. Moreover, majority of India’s population fall in the category of middle class and poor, and they are not able to afford expensive COVID-19 tests and treatment. Many are not able to afford self-isolation or quarantine.
The stringent nationwide lockdown didn’t help stop the spread of teh virus. To some extent it helped state governments setup COVID-19 hospitals and budget but all have been overwhelmed over the past week.