Two lab technicians have died in the state so far due to COVID-19 and hundreds have been infected, according to technician associations.

A front line health worker was seen checking the temparature of the a person.Image for representation only
Coronavirus Coronavirus Monday, August 03, 2020 - 15:40

The family of 50-year-old Mohammad Khurshid Ali, a senior government medical lab technician from Warangal, is traumatised after he breathed his last on Saturday, after he was allegedly denied admission at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) in Hyderabad. Khurshid had tested positive for coronavirus and was showing severe symptoms such as fever, cough, vomiting, throat pain, abdominal pain and shortness of breath.

The technician was referred to NIMS on July 29 by the Superintendent of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) Hospital in Warangal with a recommendation letter, a copy of which is with TNM, so he could get better treatment.

NIMS is a referral hospital for frontline workers who test positive for the virus, but Khurshid’s family says that he was denied admission stating that the management was accepting only doctors and not lab technicians.

Khurshid was referred to Gandhi Hospital but as the family had received ‘negative’ feedback about the hospital from others, they decided to take him all the way back to Warangal again in a private ambulance, where he died on August 1.

Like Khurshid, hundreds of technicians allege that despite being at the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 while testing samples, they are not being provided proper protective gear to safeguard themselves against the virus.

This is the second death among government lab technicians in the state, of the approximately hundreds who were affected, according to the Telangana State Government Medical Lab Technicians Association (TSGMLTA).

‘Not getting good quality kits’

“Lab technicians in the state are being given non-surgical masks, whereas we’re supposed to use surgical masks. We’re not being provided with quality Personal Protect Equipment (PPE) kits in districts such as Warangal Urban, Jayashankar Bhupalapally and other districts. If we were provided the same, why would there be hundreds of cases among us?” asks Ravinder Manchala, General Secretary, TSGMLTA.

He adds that lab technicians are also upset as there is no proper response from the Head of Departments (HoDs) in their respective districts when they ask about proper protection.

It’s not just technicians who are under risk but also the general public who come to get tested, the lab technicians say.

“In an ideal situation, ample hypochlorite spraying should be done between sample collections for two patients so that the chance of infection between a positive patient and a healthy patient is minimised. However, no such norms are being followed at the Primary Health Care (PHC) level at many places,” Ravinder alleges.

TNM has reached out to senior government officials on the allegations, but is yet to receive a response.

Read: Hyderabad airport gets new fever screening system to track passengers


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