At least 18 more healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of such cases to 85 in Mumbai. Around 8.5 per cent of the total number patients are health workers in the city, which has the highest number of infected doctors, nurses and paramedics across Maharashtra.
The virus has so far led to the sealing of at least eight hospitals with staff and unsuspected patients testing positive. Of the health workers infected, over 60 are nurses.
In Bhatia hospital, of the 70 swabs collected from hospital employees, 14 have tested positive. These include two intensive care unit (ICU) doctors and 12 nurses.
The hospital was declared a containment zone on Wednesday after a patient transferred from Wockhardt hospital tested positive for COVID-19. The nurses and doctors exposed to the patient further spread the infection to other nurses. The hospital stopped further patient admission and closed its out patient department. Throat swabs of 70 staffers suspected to have the infection were taken on Wednesday. The 56 who tested negative have been kept under quarantine at their home and the hospital hostel.
The 14 infected nurses and doctors have been shifted to Bhatia hospital. “They are stable. We are monitoring their condition.We will test them again on the fifth and 14th day. Once they test negative, they will be discharged,” said a hospital official.
The hospital is, however, a long way from reopening its services soon. It will have to wait for another fortnight before the quarantine period for all staffers end. A civic official said that once all staffers test negative, disinfection will be carried out in the hospital and then it will be allowed to admit new patients.
In Breach Candy hospital, two more nurses have tested positive. The hospital now has four staffers — a technician and three nurses — testing positive for COVID-19. All are admitted in the hospital’s isolation
ward. The hospital took 182 samples of nurses, doctors, and paramedics earlier this week after two tested positive, and nurses demanded they all should be tested as a precautionary measure.
Of them, 180 have tested negative. The nurses who tested negative will be kept under quarantine in the hospital’s Mahim hostel for another week. The hostel was disinfected by BMC after the first nurse tested positive on Monday. Breach Candy hospital is only admitting critical patients. Since the majority of hospital staff remains under quarantine, the hospital will resume smooth operations once the quarantine period is over.
In Shushrusha hospital in Dadar, new patient admissions were stopped on Friday after two nurses tested positive.
Private hospitals have complained that shutting down entire hospital may become an impediment for patients requiring treatment for other illnesses. “The current focus is only on whether a patient has coronavirus or not. Patients with other illnesses will have nowhere to go if hospitals get sealed one after another,” a doctor, attached with a private hospital in the suburbs, said.
A doctor from a nursing home in Goregaon said they are turning away all those with cough and cold because they fear if a staffer tests positive, BMC will shut down services. “Already there is so much panic among nurses and doctors. If hospitals are shut, health workers in other centres will be scared to report to work,” the doctor said.
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