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Kerala plane crash: Many staff in Covid isolation, two hospitals wage heroic battle

As news of the crash broke, the medical colleges swiftly mobilised required manpower, even as injured passengers were either ferried into or were referred from other hospitals.

Written by Shaju Philip | Kerala, Kozhikode | August 9, 2020 2:09:46 am
Medical personnel in personal protective wear stand as people injured after an Air India Express flight skidded off a runway while landing at the Kozhikode airport are attended to at the Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala state, India, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Shijith Sreedhar)

Despite battling Covid-19 for the last five months, and with many health workers in quarantine, government medical colleges in Kozhikode and Malappuram were at the top of their game in treating emergency cases following Friday’s air crash, without compromising on coronavirus protocol.

As news of the crash broke, the medical colleges swiftly mobilised required manpower, even as injured passengers were either ferried into or were referred from other hospitals. Private hospitals, which were not treating Covid-19 cases, also stepped in and admitted survivors. Follow Kozhikode Air India Express crash LIVE updates

Dr M P Sreejayan, superintendent of Kozhikode medical college, said around 250 staff, including doctors, have been in quarantine after a few of them tested positive for coronavirus. “Yet we mobilised 100 doctors, including our postgraduate medical students, for handling the emergency situation.”

Dr Sreejayan said, “Two special wards were opened for treating the injured, and all of them were subjected to antigen test. One person brought dead from a private hospital was tested positive. Others (injured passengers) tested negative in the antigen test, but RT-PCR test would be held for them as well in the coming days.”

Also read: ‘We were trained for this…forgot pandemic,’ says doctor who tended to injured

Dr K V Nandakumar, superintendent of government medical college at Manjeri, Malappuram, said mobilising doctors and other health workers was the main task. “We were already running Covid and non-Covid casualty (wards). We shifted the Covid-19 casualty (section) to another location to receive air crash victims.”

Dr Nandakumar said they arranged the facility within 15 minutes of getting the news. The IMA also intervened, he said, and “all doctors living in Manjeri area came forward to help us”.

Explained | Why black boxes are important to an air crash investigation

He said distancing norms could not be maintained per se at the time of this crisis, but “we ensured that health workers handling the injured persons wore PPE kit”.

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