Around 700 health workers have been infected in Ernakulam so far
A total of 700 health workers have been infected in the district so far, in a nearly six-fold jump from mid-August when 110 health workers had cumulatively tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to health officials and infection control officers at hospitals in the district, the extent of the spread of the virus in the community has made it nearly impossible to ascertain if health workers have contracted the infection from within the health-care facility or outside.
Attempts, however, have been made to strengthen infection control measures both in government and private facilities. “Training for health workers on use of personal protective equipment is being provided. The administration liaises with nodal officers at private hospitals every week to monitor their functioning as well,” said Dr. Mathews Numpeli, district programme manager, National Health Mission.
Since pre-COVID-19 times, committees are in place at all government hospitals right from the primary health centre level to monitor infection control measures, said a doctor at the Muvattupuzha General Hospital. These committees are required to meet every week to assess hospital hygiene and practices to maintain it. But crowding and ensuring distancing continue to remain a problem, she added.
Dr. Sonya Joy, consultant microbiologist and infection control officer at Aster Medcity, said that infection control measures, like appropriate PPE use and hygiene, were seemingly simple, but could be difficult to enforce among a large group of people. CCTV footage is being observed to ensure health workers were wearing appropriate PPE at all times, and restrictions are in place to make sure workers do not gather for meals. “The chances of getting the infection could be higher outside hospitals considering precautions are strict inside a health facility,” she said.
It is likely that health workers are contracting the infection from outside hospitals, said Dr. Numpeli.
Dr. Neethu Susan Phillip who heads infection control at Rajagiri Hospital said practices like taking patient history, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene had assumed greater significance. With health workers, being careful while doffing contaminated PPE kits is crucial, she said.
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