Gujarat recorded the third-highest number of Covid-19 deaths among doctors in the country— after Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, according to data tabulated by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).
As many as 38 doctors in the state have died due to Covid-19 until September 10. On Friday, a 34-year-old paediatrician in Vapi also succumbed to the disease.
This otherwise appears to be in sharp contrast with Gujarat’s cumulative death toll which ranks the state at eighth position across India with 3,286 deaths recorded as Covid-19 deaths. In terms of cumulative cases as well, Gujarat ranks 12th among other states with 1.22 lakh cases till date.
The doctors who died of Covid-19 in Gujarat were aged between 34 and 82 years, as per the IMA list of ‘Covid martyrs’ released on September 16. Out of the 38, 29 were between 50-70 years of age. According to the list, 15 deaths of doctors were reported from Ahmedabad and five doctors succumbed to the infection in Surat.
While most doctors on the list are private practitioners, one among them, Dr Pankaj Jadav from Amreli, was a government medical officer. Dr Jadhav, 49, who had been serving at the Amreli Civil Hospital for the past 20 years, succumbed to the infection on June 22, a week after his mother died due to Covid-19. Most of the doctors who succumbed were either general practitioners or paediatricians.
Dr Ketan Shah, MD paediatrician in Surat, said, “We were initially of the opinion that only adults were being infected. But a month later, we realised children were also infected with high viral load but symptomology is very mild. As paediatricians, we are examining patients next to our chair and the contact time is more. By May or June we realised that children are asymptomatic carriers.”
A scientist with the National Institute of Occupational Health said one of the main hazards is the prolonged duty hours. The scientist suggested a policy change where a doctor serves “four hours in a high viral load area and next four hours in a low viral load area.”
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