Hyderabad: As many as 20 junior doctors who came in contact with a three-year-old baby who tested positive for COVID-19 four days after being admitted to Niloufer Hospital have been quarantined.

Around 20 postgraduate medical students and eight faculty members who came in contact with the three-year-old had no proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and protective gear like N-95 masks. According to the members of the Telangana junior doctors’ association (JUDA) many junior doctors are showing mild symptoms of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, JUDA has decided to call off their boycott which they had announced on Monday demanding protective gear as per the guidelines of the directorate general of health services(DGHS) and the ministry of health and family welfare(MHFW). The decision came after 31 units of PPEs and N95 masks were delivered to the hospital on Tuesday morning.

Dr G. Srinivas, the president of the resident doctor’s association, told NewsMeter, “Around 20 doctors and eight faculties have come in contact with the baby before he tested positive. Their swab samples were sent for testing and the results are negative. However, the incubation period is seven to 14 days. Samples will be sent for a second round of testing after a week.” He said since there were no proper PPE and N95 masks the junior doctors had to treat the patient wearing only surgical masks. “As a result, they were exposed to the virus and are showing mild symptoms of COVID-19,” he said.

In addition to PPEs and protective gear, the junior doctors are also demanding accommodation in nearby hostels for doctors working in isolation wards, transportation for health care providers, prophylaxis for every health care professional, and the formation of a team of postgraduate medical students to look after the supply of PPEs and protective gear.

“Superintendents of all teaching hospitals, including Osmania, NIMS, and Gandhi Hospital, have been provided with an application facility to track and follow the requirements of PPEs and N95 masks with the Telangana State Medical Infrastructure Limited. But there is a gap in communication between the superintendents and the government. On Tuesday morning they provided 30 units of PPEs and masks. But that needs to be done daily. Similarly, in every hospital, a count needs to be taken on the required number of safety gears and they must be distributed on a daily basis,” Dr Srinivas said.

Dr. K.U.N Vishnu, president of the state junior doctors’ association, said, “We are losing critical care providers into quarantine or isolation before the chances of peak rise in cases because of unavailability of safety gears for doctors. We also urge the DME and health minister to provide accommodation for health care providers working in isolation wards in nearby hostels or hotels as their families may get exposed to the virus.”

As per the guidelines of the director of medical education, doctors must be isolated for five days after working in an isolation ward for 24 hours. Since COVID-19 patients are distributed across four hospitals in the city, so far there has been no problem in following the protocol, the doctors said. For instance, in Niloufer, per day 30 doctors are put on duty in isolation wards. However, they fear an increase in the number of positive cases in the coming days might also put this rotation at stake.

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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