As healthcare workers remain on the frontline of efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic, almost 1,000 such personnel in Maharashtra have contracted the disease. An analysis of data from 351 government and private healthcare institutions across the state shows that as many as 969 doctors, nurses, lab assistants, ward boys, ambulance drivers and other paramedical and housekeeping staff have been infected with Covid-19.
According to data from the state Health department, of the total 969 infected personnel, 215 are doctors and 310 are nurses. The maximum number of cases are from the cities with the highest number of cases: Mumbai, Pune and Malegaon.
As thousands of healthcare personnel take care of Covid-19 patients, the state “wanted an exact count of the number of doctors, nurses and healthcare personnel who have been infected,” said state epidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate. This exercise will also help in stepping up action plans on stringent infection-control practices, Dr Awate told The Indian Express.
With 52,667 cases and 1,695 deaths reported so far, Maharashtra has the highest number of cases among all Indian states.
Anticipating a rise in the number of cases in the coming months, the state has been collecting data on a weekly basis from 174 government-run healthcare institutions and 177 private healthcare institutions. “We are still analysing this data but it will give us a better understanding of what kind of infection control systems are being followed in the health care set-up,” said Dr Awate.
In Pune Municipal Corporation jurisdiction, civic officials have identified 22 doctors, 36 nurses and six pharmacists who have been infected, said Assistant Medical Officer Dr Sanjeev Wavare. One ward boy has also been found Covid-19 positive, while one doctor has succumbed to the disease.
“Our main aim is the ensure that necessary safety measures are in place while treating and caring for coronavirus patients,” Dr Subhash Salunkhe, technical advisor to the state government on Covid-19 and chairman of the state Technical Committee on Prevention of Communicable Diseases, told The Indian Express.
“At certain healthcare facilities, there is very high exposure to the virus as compared to fever centres or Covid care centres. However, there is a risk element at even non-Covid wards or out-patient departments of any hospital, as there are always cases which can be asymptomatic. Hence, precautions like investing in high-quality PPE is crucial, apart from training healthcare workers on how to put on and take off the gear properly,” added Dr Salunkhe.
Dr Rohini Kelkar, former director of laboratory services, Tata Memorial Centre, and advisor to the Hospital Infection Society- Mumbai Forum, said proper use of good-quality PPE and eye wear was imperative. It is important for healthcare workers to understand the way PPE is worn and removed, she said,
“All infectious material has to be treated on site, by autoclaving and then sending to a central facility. A hospital/clinic should disinfect the infectious waste before sending it to the central facility,” said Dr Kelkar.
She added that simple measures like appropriate use of double-layered mask, maintaining six feet distance and proper hand hygiene using liquid soap and water were also the most effective ones.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines