Coronavirus fear grips doctors, medical staff

People worried about proper treatment

Mohammad Al Amin

20th March, 2020 02:32:06 printer

Coronavirus fear grips doctors, medical staff

People are worried about getting proper treatment for coronavirus infection as panic has gripped a large number of physicians and health staff of government and private hospitals due to safety gear shortage.

“We are calling the government to ensure safety of physicians and other medical staff so that they can provide treatment to coronavirus infected patients. The government should ensure adequate supply of protection kits like gowns and masks for their safety,” Ehteshamul Huq Choudhury, secretary general of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), told the daily sun.

He also suggested that government should introduce life insurance facility for the physicians and other medical staffs who are appointed to give health services to the coronavirus infected patients.

“It is true that there is shortage of protection kits for safety of the physicians, medical staffs and patients. There is a difference between the health ministry’s claim about preparation to face the coronavirus situation and the reality as there is no adequate protection kits,” Ehteshamul said.

He also suggested that the government should set up dedicated hospitals and separate quarantine and isolation centres for the coronavirus patients. He also urged the government not to set up any treatment centre in any hospital. Talking to the daily sun, a physician of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) wishing not to be named said they are feeling unsafe in providing health services to the patients who bear symptoms of the coronavirus as the covid-19 is very much communicable and it can spread through body contact, coughing and sneezing.

Some physicians and medical staffs of the DMCH and Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital said they have no adequate personal protection kits to come to contact of patients at the respective hospitals.

They said a large number of the physicians and nurses and other medical staffs are not interested in providing treatment to the coronavirus infected patients as many physicians died of the virus infection for treating patients in China where the deadly virus first spread.

However, addressing a press briefing at Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) on Thursday, Prof Dr Abul Kalam Azad, Director General of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said, “We are requesting our physicians to give treatment services to the coronavirus patients on humanitarian ground as the coronavirus situation is a national catastrophe.”

Claiming that there are adequate supplies of personal protection kits for the physicians and other medical staffs in different hospitals, he said there will be no scarcity of the personal protection kits.

“May be some physicians and medical staffs do not want to handle the patients out of fear. We have arranged adequate necessary personal protection kits. They will use proper kits as per needs. We are now collecting one lakh kits and working to collect more 10 lakh PPEs,” the DGHS chief said.

Meanwhile, four hours after stopping work, in demand of personal protective equipment (PPE), interns at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital joined work on Thursday.

The interns started attending patients around noon after authorities supplied masks, gloves and sanitisers to some of them who work at the vulnerable units, the RMCH sources said.

Hospital authorities repeatedly told interns that they would provide PPEs within a day or two, but they failed to do so in the last two weeks, the interns said.

“We attended a number of patients with fever, sneezing, and coughs every day and nobody knows who among them are infected with coronavirus. Who will take responsibilities if any of us get infected with the disease,” said Iqbal, the interns’ spokesperson.

Denying the allegations, Deputy Director of RMCH Dr Saiful Ferdous told the newsmen that the hospital has received nearly 100 pieces of PPEs, 1,000 units each of masks, gloves and gowns.

“We have our limitations…We couldn’t provide the PPEs to all doctors of the hospital. More consignments of protective gears will reach RMCH soon,” he said.

Earlier, four doctors of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) were sent to home quarantine on Wednesday after all four handled a coronavirus patient without any protective gear for over a week.

The patient who tested positive for coronavirus was admitted to the medicine ward around eight or nine days ago, with flu-like symptoms, the hospital sources said.

Many hospitals, including the DMCH, in Dhaka are poorly equipped to handle coronavirus patients while many physicians as well as health workers are not getting protection kits like gloves, gowns, masks, sanitising alcohol, and liquid hand soap, hospital sources said.

“We are at risk because there are no enough protection facilities for doctors and other medical staffs. If patients come like this, their treatment will be difficult. If we are healthy and well, we can treat patients. If we fall sick, the patients will not get treatment,” a doctor of the DMCH said.

Not only the DMCH, the personal protection condition of doctors and other staff at different other government and non-government hospitals is very much poor.

Most of the hospitals, including Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), DMCH, Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital (Mitford), Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital and Mugda Medical College and Hospital, are tackling the coronavirus situation without necessary protection kits.

“We have opened an isolation unit for coronavirus patients in our hospital and also started giving treatment to patients of coughing and sneezing at a separate unit in the hospital out patient department. But we have limited amount of personal protection kits for our physicians and medical staffs. However, we hope we will get more protection kits soon,” Dr KM Mamun Murshed, assistant director of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, told the daily sun.

Dr TMM Morshed, director of Khulna Medical College Hospital, said they also have limited quantity of personal protection kits. “We are working with the limited personal protection kits and placing demand for more kits to the DGHS.”