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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Bengal: Leakage in PPE supply? Govt sets up helpline for health staff

The helpline had been set up “to provide an institutional channel for the ventilation of issues regarding the non-availability or insufficiency of PPE and other supplies”, said the government, and added that it can be accessed from 8 am to 8 pm every day.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Updated: May 11, 2020 6:19:00 am
Coronavirus cases, Covid 19 outbreak, PPE supply, Kolkata news, West bengal news, Indian express news Supply of PPEs has plagued from the beginning.

The state government on Sunday set up a helpline number for frontline medical workers pandemic since many have complained they are not receiving sufficient protective gear.

In its daily press briefing, and health bulletin, the Mamata Banerjee administration mentions the number of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other material supplied by the Department of Health and Family Welfare. With the claims of PPE scarcity persisting, the government suspects there may be some irregularities in the distribution of protective gear. To plug this alleged leak, the authorities decided to start the helpline. Health workers can also call the number to complain about other problems in their hospital, said officials.

“Regular supplies from the state level are being dispatched to the health facilities located across the state, and the stock position of PPE and other supplies at different levels of the state health system is comfortable,” the health department said in the order issued by Additional Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) Sharad Kumar Dwivedi.

“However, in spite of a comfortable stock position, reports are received from some medical personnel from time to time about the insufficiency or non-supply of PPE and other supplies to them by their respective institutions,” the order noted.

The helpline had been set up “to provide an institutional channel for the ventilation of issues regarding the non-availability or insufficiency of PPE and other supplies”, said the government, and added that it can be accessed from 8 am to 8 pm every day.

A senior health official said this problem has plagued medical workers since the beginning.

“All the time the government said there was no scarcity of PPEs, masks and other precautionary equipment. But, this time we are basically admitting that there is some problem or malpractice during delivery from the state to primary health centres. In many cases, these equipment are not reaching properly. To address these problems the helpline has been opened,” the official added.

Meanwhile, the government said from Sunday the Calcutta Medical College (CMC) would only admit patients either suffering from the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) or suspected of carrying the infection. To avoid the infection from spreading, the hospital closed its outpatient department.

Last week, the government had announced its decision to repurpose CMC into the 68th hospital in the state to treat only Covid-19 patients.

Eight private and government hospitals in the city and its surrounding areas have closed completely recently due to Covid-19 infections, and five have closed partially.

Some health department officials believe the infections spread because of insufficient use of PPEs and other protective gear.

“In Kolkata, many patients came for other treatments and tested positive of Covid due to scarcity of precautionary equipment and also sample testing is very low,” said a senior health department official.

Association of Health Service Doctors general secretary Manas Gumta urged the government to start random testing. “Because, the other patients who are coming to the hospital for the treatment, you never know whether they are asymptomatic or not. So, testing is the only solution to overcome this problem. Otherwise, the infection rate will increase in hospitals gradually,” he said.

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