After a doctor at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences in Thiruvananthapuram was confirmed to have the coronavirus disease, almost 25 other doctors from different departments of the institute have been compelled to self-quarantine.
The case was confirmed by Health Minister K K Shailaja on Sunday.
The infected doctor had completed a training in Spain and had returned to Kerala on March 1. He was reportedly asymptomatic initially. He was working at the Digital Substraction Angiography lab from March 2 to 5. And while he reportedly did not have contact with patients on March 6 and 7, it was only on March 8 that he reported his travel history to the hospital Superintendent when he developed a sore throat, The Hindu reported.
The next day, he disclosed his travel history with Kerala state officials, however, he was not told to be in home quarantine, as he visited Spain and the country was not there in vulnerable list then. The doctor allegedly went on to attend the outpatient clinic the next two days until he home quarantined on March 12.
On March 14, he was isolated and on the next day, his sample tested positive for COVID-19.
Due to these developments, many of the doctorâ€™s colleagues have had no option but to self-quarantine. Doctors working in many departments of the institute including radiology, anesthesia, neurosurgery, vascular surgery, and pediatric cardiac surgery have been placed under observation, according to Malayala Manorama. 25 doctors, including senior ones have been asked to go on leave.
Officials are also trying to get in touch with the patients that the affected doctor interacted with.
Universal screening of passengers arriving from all countries at Indian airports had only been ordered by the Indian government on March 4. Five days later, it was announced that passengers coming from Spain should be segregated at Indian airports. It had not yet been announced that people coming from Spain should be quarantined for 14 days. That order came from the Union Ministry of Health only on the night of March 11. However, Spain had reported coronavirus cases in February itself, and it is surprising that the doctor was not on home quarantine, a health official said.
All this has brought the Sree Chitra Institute of Medical Sciences to near shut down. The Outpatient Department is expected to be badly affected and the hospital authorities are now scrambling to manage the functioning.
Sree Chitra is an institute of national importance under the Indian government, and has been facilitating free or subsidised treatment to financially backward patients since its establishment in 1979. It is one of the biggest hospitals in Kerala and even a partial shutdown of the hospital would be a huge setback for the state.