Healthcare professionals being detected with COVID-19 opens the possibility of Telangana government hospitals operating with insufficient doctors and nurses. Such a situation is already being experienced at Modern Government Maternity Hospital, Petlaburj, where at least five junior doctors tested positive and results of more are awaited.

As number of cases are exponentially increasing in the State, doctors and administrators at State government hospitals said that it is inevitable that they will attend asymptomatic COVID-19 patients at non-COVID hospitals without knowing about the patients infected. As monsoon will set in some weeks, people would develop fever or cold. More patients would visit hospitals.

“This means more doctors and nurses might contract the infectious disease. They would be isolated at home or hospitals and contacts have to be quarantined. In such an eventuality, burden of attending to patients will be on uninfected healthcare professionals,” a senior doctor from a government hospital said on condition of anonymity.

Highly placed sources in the State Health department said that they thought about the possibility of doctors attending to COVID-19 patients without knowing their infection status. Sources said that the State Health department officials did not yet communicate any contingency plan on how to manage the patient load if large number of healthcare professionals contract COVID-19 and stay away from duties.

The concern of hospitals running on skeletal number staff was expressed by junior doctors too. House surgeons and post-graduates take significant load of work at government hospitals. As of now, as in private hospitals, patients are screened for fever and made to sanitise their hands before entering the hospital buildings. However, junior doctors said that it is not possible in emergency situations.

“Some of the pregnant woman are rushed in emergency situations and there is no time to screen them for fever or take other measures,” said a junior doctor who attended duties at Maternity Hospital in petlaburj.

As per guidelines, pregnant woman coming from containment zones have to be tested for coronavirus. A senior doctor from the hospital said that it becomes difficult as some pregnant women are rushed to the hospital when they develop labour pains.

“They will undergo tests at private hospitals through all trimesters and get admitted at the Maternity Hospital in Petlaburj for delivery. If they get admitted a few days earlier, we can know their test results too before performing delivery,” the senior doctor said.

Officials earlier said that they have asked doctors to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if they are attending patients in wards where screening patients is not possible.

Review meeting

Meanwhile, Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender, who held a review meeting in Hyderabad on Tuesday, has directed officials to chart separate action plan for safety of healthcare professionals in the wake of spike in cases. He asked them to give top priority to their safety.

Mr Rajender asked them to include the safety measures, apart from existing ones, for staff working in hospitals and at village level.

Besides, security of cancer patients who are suffering from COVID-19 too was discussed at the meeting. Currently, they are provided treatment along with other patients. However, the Health Minister said that a separate ward would be established for the cancer patients having COVID-19 too.

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