COVID-19 clusters at hospitals across states have raised concerns over an impending shortage of healthcare workers amid rising cases.

Medics outside a COVID ward at a Hyderabad hospital: Several doctors in Hyderabad’s Gandhi, Osmania hospitals get COVID-19 Image for representation/PTI
news COVID-19 Wednesday, January 12, 2022 - 13:14

Several doctors and medical students in Hyderabad at major government medical colleges and hospitals that treat COVID-19 patients have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Telangana Junior Doctors Association (TJUDA). According to information shared by TJUDA on January 11, Tuesday, around 40 doctors and medical students in Gandhi Hospital have tested positive, including 20 MBBS students, 10 house surgeons, six PG students and four faculty members. At Osmania General Hospital, 19 MBBS students, 35 house surgeons, 23 PG students and two assistant professors had tested positive as of January 11, according to TJUDA. The TJUDA also said that a cluster has also been reported at Warangal’s Kakatiya Medical College, with 45 MBBS students testing positive so far. 

While there has been no official data gathered on the number of doctors who tested positive, TJUDA has gathered information from fellow doctors and students, a TJUDA representative said. With COVID-19 clusters among doctors, nurses and other health staff arising in many hospitals across cities, including Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai, concerns have been raised on the possibility of shortage of health workers amid rising COVID-19 cases during the third wave. 

Read: Chennai sees COVID-19 clusters of hospital staff, experts warn workforce crisis

“At Gandhi Hospital, a big number of cases are among MBBS students who don’t treat patients anyway. Since not too many PG students (or resident doctors) and house surgeons have been affected yet, right now there hasn’t been much effect on services. In the future, if there are more cases, it can get difficult, especially since we don't have one batch of PG doctors because of the delay in NEET-PG counselling since last year,” said the TJUDA representative. While the number of hospitalisations has also remained low so far, with around 70 COVID-19 patients admitted at Gandhi Hospital as on January 11, he expressed concern that cases might go up after the Sankranthi festive season. 

He also pointed out that health care workers performing COVID-19 duties are not being given time for quarantine after doing so, as was the practice earlier. On Sunday, January 9, the Union Health Ministry issued revised guidelines for health care workers, which said that doctors and other health workers will not be required to quarantine after COVID-19 duties. Health care workers who test positive for the coronavirus will have to follow seven days of isolation in case of mild cases. In Tamil Nadu, the Service Doctors and Post Graduates Association (SDPGA) has demanded that the government provide proper quarantine for health workers performing COVID-19 duty to reduce exposure to infection. 

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