As three more doctors in the city tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, the state government directed all frontline medical workers to stay in hotels, guest houses, youth hostels, and other accommodations near their hospitals arranged by it.
The government said this would cut down transportation costs, and shield people from unnecessary exposure to the virus. In an order, the health department noted that commuting to work every day “puts a daily physical and mental strain on the medical personnel, besides also putting them at risk of being exposed to the virus”.
The health workers can go home only in case of emergencies, and have to seek permission from the head of their institution or the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH).
Following Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s instructions last week, the health department said it had directed hospitals to prepare seven-day rosters for doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. It pointed out that daily commute seemed unnecessary in view of those directives.
“Such daily commuting is all the more unnecessary in the wake of the order dated 16/04/20 specifying that frontline medical workers will be given week-long duties in government hospitals, and taken off-duty for seven days to enable them to rest and recuperate,” said the department. “CMOHs and heads of medical institutions have been advised to prepare duty rosters based on this seven-day shift system.”
A senior health department official also said by stopping the daily commute the government “will minimise exposure” and reduce transportation costs. “Moreover, this way, we will be able to build a reserve bench of medical practitioners,” the official added. “Now, we are lacking in terms of the number of medical practitioners.”
Meanwhile, the three doctors who tested positive for COVID-19 are from Kolkata Medical College. With this, more than a dozen doctors in the city and its surrounding areas have contracted the disease, while 25 nurses have tested positive.
The Medical College doctors seem to have got the infection from a 62-year-old woman who died of COVID-19 on April 13.
Following this, junior doctors and nurses asked the hospital administration to expand the list of the health workers earmarked for testing, and held a protest. “Ultimately, we made a list of our own, and sent samples. Now, three doctors tested positive among them,” said a doctor.
The state recorded 20 more positive cases on Sunday, taking the total count of active cases to 198, according to a bulletin by the Health Department. Four more patients on Sunday took the total number of recoveries from COVID-19 to 66. No new fatalities were recorded. The death toll stands at 12.
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