As many as 206 healthcare workers from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have tested positive for Covid-19 over the last two months, with 11 testing positive on Friday and 62 in the last three days. These include two faculty members, 10 resident doctors, 26 nurses, five mess workers, 49 hospital attendants, 34 sanitation workers, nine technicians and 69 security guards.
The country’s top medical institute has a manpower of 20,000 people, which includes administration, faculty, doctors, nurses, paramedics, as well as outsourced workers.
According to hospital authorities, over 150 have recovered and joined work. “Healthcare workers started to test positive from the second week of March. On an average, over 100 healthcare workers are tested regularly, out of which around 10-12 are turning out to be positive. None of them have contracted the disease from the institute,” said Dr D K Sharma, AIIMS medical superintendent.
AIIMS is among six government hospitals designated to treat Covid-19 patients in the national capital, with 635 patients admitted to its two facilities — the JPN Trauma Centre in Delhi and the hospital in Jhajjar.
Earlier this week, a 48-year-old sanitation supervisor deputed at the OPD died of the virus. Last week, a mess worker posted in the RPC canteen had reportedly succumbed to the disease.
The resident doctors’ association (RDA) of the institute had alleged N95 masks provided at AIIMS do not meet safety standards suggested by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“Since March we have been writing and fighting for improving safety of hostel premises, sanitation, provision of stay and proper quarantine protocol, and adequate testing — but without satisfactory response. Even issues about quality of N95 masks and other components of PPE have not been addressed. If this continues, we will be short of healthcare workers to treat patients,” Dr Srinivas Rajkumar T, general secretary, RDA, AIIMS, had said. Dr Rajkumar was expelled from the RDA later in the day.
Responding to the allegations, Dr Sharma said: “Not just N95 masks, but all PPE items, right from head to toe, have been procured and provided to all in sufficient quantity. Testing and hospitalisation facility is also available in abundance. Very few of them have been hospitalised. We have given enough items to our healthcare workers in all Covid and suspected Covid areas and there is no chance of them catching an infection while working, provided he/she uses the PPE properly and is not careless about it.”
“We are procuring the best quality N95 masks and have a committee with seven-eight members who evaluate samples properly. Once the product is recommended, only then does the institute purchase it. In the initial phase, due to shortage and unavailability of safety gear, we had to procure it from different firms and some individuals might have faced issues. But now, since there is no shortage, we are getting the best quality safety gear for our staff,” he added.
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