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COVID-19 explodes among doctors in Hyderabad

by news desk Fathima hospital Kannur

Hyderabad: A total of 48 post-graduate (PG) doctors have tested positive for COVID-19 so far in Hyderabad. Of these, 17 are from the Osmania Medical College (OMC), taking the total number to 32.

Two doctors from Gandhi Medical College (GMC) also tested positive on Thursday, and the hospital now has four physicians stricken with COVID-19. Five others from Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences tested positive, and the number there has gone up to 12.

One senior doctor from the cardiology department of the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) has tested positive. Two professors, an ex-professor and three associate professors at the Petlaburj Government Maternity Hospital have tested positive.

Post-graduate students of medicine, who are the most exposed to COVID-19 patients in the wards, have criticised the government's handling of the WHO-mandated COVID-19 protocol. Writing in the Deccan Chronicle, a doctor who tested positive after performing a C-section said, "There is reluctance in the government to quarantine the (exposed) students. The hospitals need attention from government in terms of sanitisation, screening of patients and proper management in isolation. The isolation ward of 20 beds has people walking in and out."

Post-graduate medical students are demanding mass screening of frontline medical staff as they are being exposed to risk but the capacity for testing at some of the premier hospitals in the capital city of Telangana is as little as 120 per day.

Telangana is unique among the southern states for limiting coronavirus testing. It has the lowest testing rates in the south.

After the spread of the coronavirus in the medical community became public this week, the state government of Telangana finally issued orders for quarantine of the affected PG doctors. This has come as a relief to medical students.

Senior doctors said, however, that this is not enough. Testing or screening of patients coming for elective surgeries have to be carried out rigorously so that the risk to doctors treating is minimised.

In government maternity hospitals in Hyderabad, however, pregnant women are not being screened as they come in for delivery, and the result is now being seen in the explosion of infection among the medical community.

The problem of coronavirus infection is highest at the Petlaburj Maternity Hospital in the old city of Hyderabad, as it is a major referral centre. A senior gynaecologist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, “We are carrying out normal deliveries and C-sections even for suspected COVID-19 cases as we cannot let young pregnant women suffer. They are coming from areas where the infection has spread but there has not been any screening despite our demand for it. A chest X-ray is done and even if the film shows the telltale effects of coronavirus infection, we have to go through with the case. Pregnant women must be protected and so must the doctors.”

There is a vicious cycle at play at the government hospitals treating coronavirus cases. They are in serious risk of becoming hotspots and sources of further spread of the infection. The protocols demand sanitising and cleaning of operation theatres, X–ray labs, in fact the complete hospital. But due to budget constraints, this is not being done to optimum level.

Another senior gynaecologist explained, “The exposure level of immune-compromised pregnant women is high. We are asking to screen every patient and if positive, the isolation and treatment becomes easy. The fear of cross infection and spread can be curtailed.”

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