Housekeeping staff at Bengaluru's Victoria Hospital held a protest on Monday, raising concerns over a number of the staff members testing positive for the coronavirus.
The workers, who are employed on a contract basis, staged a protest outside the main building of the hospital in Bengaluru on Monday calling for better facilities for workers who are putting their lives at risk on COVID-19 duty.
The hospital in central Bengaluru has been the designated hospital for COVID-19 patients in the city since the first case was reported in March this year. It was only in June that the Karnataka government added 16 government hospitals and several private hospitals to the list of COVID-19 hospitals.
“We are staging a protest because we have been working for over four months now. We do one week of duty and then we are quarantined for a week. On the fifth day of quarantine, we are tested for COVID-19. In the last three weeks, we have had around 10 people test positive for the virus,” said Meena, one of the protesting staff members.
On Sunday, as many as six housekeeping staff members tested positive for the virus, Meena added. There are 250 contract workers at the hospital who are involved in housekeeping work.
The workers are tasked with the maintenance and cleaning of the building. They said that those who test positive among them are not given adequate facilities in the general ward, which is, reportedly, in stark contrast to facilities provided to permanent staff members, like doctors and nurses who test positive for the virus.
Over 30 doctors at Victoria Hospital have tested positive for the virus, a doctor working in the hospital told TNM.
Advocate and activist Lekha Adavi told TNM that contract workers are being used increasingly for COVID-19 duty. “Contract workers are tasked with COVID-19 duty while permanent staff are given other work. After doing COVID duty, they are not given proper treatment or quarantine facilities,” Lekha said.
A protest was also held by housekeeping staff at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru on Monday.
The situation is similarly worrying at the KC General Hospital, another government hospital in Bengaluru which is treating COVID-19 patients. As many as 15 nurses in the hospital have tested positive for the virus, causing a shortage in the number of nurses treating patients.
In a video that was shared widely, a nurse at the hospital is seen asking Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar to provide more nurses since two nurses were managing as many as 112 patients.