Most of them could have been infected through contact — while treating COVID-19 patients and during fieldwork.

Healthcare workers wearing PPEImage for representation
Coronavirus Coronavirus Saturday, July 25, 2020 - 08:32

Kerala saw the highest one day spike of COVID-19 cases till date on Thursday, with 1,078 more people testing positive for the virus. While the number came down on Friday, with 885 new cases, adding to the woes of the state is the increasing infection among the healthcare workers. As many as 304 frontline health care workers, including doctors, had tested positive for coronavirus across the state till Wednesday, July 22. This includes 257 health workers and 47 doctors.

"The information is collected from various centres from which the cumulative figure is derived," a doctor, who works in the government sector, told TNM.

Among the infected are those who had come in direct contact with the COVID-19 patients, while treating them and during fieldwork, as well as those who were not directly involved in COVID-19 care. The data, though officially collected, has not been made public yet. 

“The government has asked for a break-up of the numbers of COVID-19 patients among the health workers and professionals. Most of them must be hospital contacts, while there must be contact during fieldwork too. Regarding doctors, it must be mostly from patient care contacts,” a source from the health department told TNM.

He has also said that the data is the one collected on the periphery.

Recently, 18 staff members at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital, including seven doctors and three nurses who were not on COVID-19 duty, tested positive for coronavirus. Three patients were also infected. They were under treatment at the surgery and orthopaedic wards. Following this, 150 staff members of the hospital, including 40 doctors and 80 nurses, had been asked to go on quarantine.

“The infection among health care workers, some may easily conclude as the result of not wearing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). But that is not the case. Doctors and other health care workers sometimes would let down the guard after long hours of duty, and also might have gotten infected while stepping out for their personal needs. Hence, there are both possibilities, though mainly it could be through contact during work. 

“Non-COVID hospitals should also be brought into the focus. While there is extra caution at COVID hospitals, at non-COVID centres, the perception is that there is no infection, which leads many lowering their guard,” the doctor added.

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