The state branch of the health body on Tuesday came out strongly against the Assam health department’s order to engage health workers and doctors on continuous Covid-19 duty for 11 days, followed by three days of quarantine before re-engagement in duty. The IMA said it would be very exhausting for the health workers.
In a memorandum to state health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, IMA state head, Dr Satyajit Borah, and honorary secretary, Dr Hemanga Baishya, said on Tuesday that they strongly oppose the government order. “
…It does not require mention that working in Covid wards continuously for 11 days wearing full PPE kits and in this torrid summer, without air-conditioning in most centres, would be very much exerting and exhausting and IMA fears the government’s decision will demoralize the frontline workers,” they said.
The health body also opposed the government’s decision to switch over to antigen tests for checking health workers engaged in Covid duty, saying that ICMR has already noted that this rapid test is less sensitive and a negative test does not rule out Covid, and it further requires confirmation of the negative status by a PCR test.
An order issued by the principal secretary of the state health and family welfare department, Samir K Sinha, on Monday said that in pursuance of deployment of Rapid Point-of-Care Antigen Detection Test Kits, the department has decided that a medical team attending to Covid-19 patients will perform their duties normally for a period of 11 days, and thereafter undergo Covid-19 antigen rapid testing. “On the test result being negative, a team member shall undergo institutional quarantine for three days, before resuming Covid-19 related duties,” read the government order.
The IMA took strong exception to the fact that already a large number of doctors and health workers have fallen victim to virus and such ‘unplanned and insensitive steps’ would further endanger their lives.
The health body has demanded a critical review by the government as to why so many health workers and doctors are being affected by the disease while working with Covid-19 patients.
The association also urged the state government to adhere to ICMR’s advice of managing and supervising asymptomatic Covid patients, who qualify for home treatment, to get themselves treated in their homes, saying that it is not possible with limited resources and facilities to treat such a large number of cases. Contrary to the stand of the IMA, Sarma was critical of the success of the home isolation directive for infected patients.
The association urged the government to take into confidence experienced healthcare professionals in planning policies instead of taking ‘closed door’ and ‘whimsical decisions’.