KOCHI: THE growing number of Covid-19 cases among the state’s frontline warriors has come as a heavy blow to Kerala’s healthcare sector, which has already been staggering under the weight of the pandemic over the past six months.
So far, over 170 healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus in various hospitals across Ernakulam. With many of the staff infected and many more in quarantine, hospitals are struggling to meet the day-to-day requirements for patient care.
“Patients in critical condition had to be shifted to the MCH, Kalamassery. Though the OP ward has been reopened, services are only gradually picking up. Over 60 persons, including patients, were in the primary contact lists of Covid patients,” said a doctor with a private hospital in Kochi.
Over 18 healthcare staff of another private hospital in Kochi also tested positive for Covid in a week. The hospital is facing a staff shortage and if any patient turns up with a serious illness, the hospital will be in a tight spot. “The problem with the healthcare staff of a hospital getting infected is that it will not be able to give the best care for the patients. This is something we cannot avoid during this Covid situation,” said a doctor at the hospital.
In the wake of this worrisome scenario, that could prove to be the Achilles’ heel in the battle against the virus, antigen tests for medical staff have been facilitated at the MCH. “Those who had come in contact with Covid patients and infected employees will be given priority for testing,” said an MCH official.
A Covid analysis report by the Ernakulam district surveillance team states that 326 healthcare workers are expected to be infected by next month. Nine members of the staff at the Karuvelipady Taluk Hospital, which had been treating Covid patients from the very beginning of the pandemic, tested positive for the virus in the last two weeks. Five staff members with the MCH were also confirmed to be infected this month.
According to Dr Anup R Warrier, infectious disease expert, training and awareness on the correct way to use Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), availability of quality PPE kits, and short duty hours/shifts to keep the time of exposure limited are the best ways of preventing the Covid spread among healthcare workers. “If one is not careful, canteens and changing rooms in hospitals are likely to act as the hotbeds for the spread of infection,” said Dr Anup.