‘Health infrastructure is overwhelmed’
With cases continuing to surge in Tamil Nadu, doctors’ associations are worried about the “overburdened” healthcare infrastructure and have called for an intense lockdown to cut down disease transmission and step up infrastructural requirements.
Government doctors’ associations have already submitted representations, recommending a lockdown.
K. Senthil, president of the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors’ Association, said medical institutions were almost overwhelmed, and supplies were becoming scarce and were high in demand, with oxygen being one of the most essential components.
A total lockdown for 15 days is necessary to break the chain of transmission, he said, adding, “Patient load is high in government hospitals. We, as doctors, are scared and worried. How can we manage when the inflow of patients keeps on increasing? Effective use of a lockdown is necessary.”
Noting that healthcare providers/workers were exhausted, he said, “It is our responsibility to care for people. The disproportionate load of patients is demoralising.”
A. Ramalingam, general secretary of the Service Doctors’ and Postgraduates’ Association, said the healthcare system was on the verge of collapse.
“There is no adequate manpower. Doctors and nurses should be recruited immediately,” he said. He said a lockdown would act like a pause button. “It will give us some time to prepare healthcare infrastructure adequately. It will delay the peak in cases. To flatten the curve, we need to reduce incidence, which is possible only if the movement of people is brought down. We need to drastically restrict the movement and gathering of people in urban areas of the State such as Chennai,” he said.
The Doctors’ Association for Social Equality had raised the need for a lockdown earlier, G.R. Ravindranath, its general secretary, said.
“A 14-day complete lockdown is essential. The new government should consider a lockdown as it will reduce the speed of transmission, during which we can build up hospital capacity. We need to strengthen the healthcare system as it is already collapsing and oxygen demands are difficult to meet,” he noted. He said the government should give ₹4,000 to ration cardholders and provide free ration for six months.
Noting that the daily count had crossed 24,000 in the State, P. Ramakrishnan, president of the Indian Medical Association, Tamil Nadu, said, “There is poor adherence to COVID-19 norms like masking, maintaining physical distancing, handwashing and avoiding gatherings among people. So if we need to break the chain of transmission, a lockdown is essential.”
A government doctor on COVID-19 duty said a lockdown might help offload hospitals during which more oxygen beds could be created. “Otherwise there will be more fatalities and a scramble for oxygen beds, which will become frustrating.” he said.
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