Amid Delhi's COVID-19 surge, 100+ healthcare workers test positive
Over 100 health workers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and other hospitals have tested positive for COVID-19 over the last week. The development comes as Delhi has seen an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, which experts blame on the new, more contagious coronavirus variant Omicron. Experts fear more healthcare workers might get infected in the coming days.
Why does it matter?
- The outbreak among doctors has presented a fresh challenge as it might put the city's health infrastructure under severe strain.
- Already, government hospitals are facing an acute shortage of staff due to the delays in counseling of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Post-Graduate (NEET-PG).
- Meanwhile, data shows an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients getting hospitalized.
Over 120 doctors test positive
Reportedly, over 120 doctors have tested positive for COVID-19 and are undergoing quarantine at the major Delhi hospitals. In the last few days, including roughly 50 doctors at AIIMS, 50 at Safdarjung Hospital, 15 at Ram Manohar Lohia, seven at Lok Nayak hospital, and 20 at the Hindu Rao Hospital, The Indian Express reported.
AIIMS cancels winter leave
In view of a spike in cases, the AIIMS administration has canceled the winter vacation of its faculty members. Other than doctors, at least 15 staff members have also tested positive for the virus in AIIMS. "In every department, there are more than five to six cases and the total number could even be more than 70," a resident doctor at AIIMS reportedly said.
Doctors flags issue of staff shortage
A resident doctor at Safdarjung Hospital said the hospital is short-staffed as no new batches have been admitted due to delays in NEET-PG counseling. "The problem isn't hospital beds getting full; the problem is a shortage of manpower," the doctor told TIE. A unit of a hospital department has "run out of resident doctors because all of them are in isolation," they added.
Had warned government: Doctors' body
Federation of Resident Doctors' Association President Dr. Manish Jangra said they had warned the government of an imminent healthcare crisis and called for expedited NEET-PG counseling. "The hospitals are operating with two-third of their staff...The situation will spiral out of control at the peak of the wave," Dr. Jangra said. Others had also warned that infections among doctors may lead to a temporary crisis.
Patients in Delhi hospitals increasing
Meanwhile, the Delhi government's data showed the number of COVID-19 positive patients in the city's hospitals rose from 204 on January 1 to 482 on January 4. During the same period, the number of patients with oxygen support increased from 82 to 168. Similarly, the number of patients on ventilators increased from five to 14.
'Healthcare workers falling sick will worsen situation'
"The number of hospitalizations has so far remained low, but it is going to increase and put the healthcare staff under strain," Dr. BL Sherwal—the medical director of the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital—told PTI. The transmission of the virus among a large number of healthcare workers "will compound the situation," Dr. Sherwal added.