Coronavirus outbreak: Medics disappointed with new COVID-19 advisory for health workers

Published: May 19, 2020, 17:57 IST | IANS | Mumbai

Medical professionals have urged that the resident doctors should be provided 7 days' quarantine so that at least their COVID-19 test report is also procured by then

This picture has been used for representational purpose only
This picture has been used for representational purpose only

Many resident doctors associations in the national capital have expressed their dissatisfaction with the latest advisory issued by the Union Health Ministry recently for health care workers (HCW) working in COVID and non-COVID areas of hospitals.

According to the advisory issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Won May 15, only those HCW who are at high risk of exposure will be quarantined and regular quarantine of healthcare workers after performing duty in COVID-19 areas is not warranted, unless they meet the stipulated criteria. The advisory said only those HCW who are providing care to a COVID-19 case or lab worker handling respiratory specimens from COVID-19 cases without recommended PPE or with possible breach of PPE or working without mask and goggles or face-shield, are considered as high risk exposure case.

Dr Manish, President of Resident Doctors Association of Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital told IANS that the association has written to Health Secretary Preeti Sudan regarding the advisory and has urged that the resident doctors should be provide at least 7 days' quarantine so that at least their COVID-19 test report is also procured by then.

"Since many resident doctors have family and relatives susceptible to COVID-19, it creates a fear in them of transmission of disease to their relatives. It is for this reason we want hotel accommodation for quarantine purpose for at least 7 days till the time their report comes," Dr Manish told IANS.

Similarly, Dr Parv Mittal, President of Resident Doctors Association of LNJP Hospital in Delhi, expressed his disappointment about the advisory. Speaking to IANS, Dr Mittal said, "The government perceives the 2 week post-duty quarantine as an ‘undue luxury' and accommodation expense as an ‘unnecessary expenditure'. But without quarantine there is a high chance of infection spreading to fellow doctors and other health care workers.

"The guideline relies on a rationale that only those HCWs who got exposed to COVID positive patients without proper PPE have a chance of infection. There are multiple faults in this rationale: Firstly, there have been multiple cases of doctors catching infection despite proper usage of PPE. Secondly, working conditions in the hospitals and PPE quality provided, are far from ideal."

Dr Shivaji Dev Barman, President of Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) also said that the association wrote to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan regarding the concerns of the health care workers, as reported by IANS on Monday.

Barman said, "Risk of exposure among HCWs is high. Since the virus has an incubation period of 14 days and there are many asymptomatic patients who are testing positive, quarantine along with adequate testing is essential for doctors following COVID duty. The virus has high infectivity and an infected doctor might put his or her close contacts like family members and colleagues, at risk."

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