Kolkata: In this time of the corona virus pandemic, the West Bengal government needs to step up its game in providing protection to its caregivers. They are vital in our fight against the deadly virus.
Doctors in some medical colleges have received inferior quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Sources said doctors at Calcutta Medical College, which is a tertiary centre for Covid-19 treatment, and Beliaghata ID Hospital have received raincoats instead of proper medical gowns and simple surgical masks instead of N95 and eye gear.
“The eye gears which have been distributed are the simple ones which we use during Holi. The masks which we have received are the cotton ones, which can prevent dust particles but not bacteria and virus,” said an intern at Murshidabad Medical College.
Though there have been no positive cases in Murshidabad so far, the fear remains as there large numbers of migrant workers from here who work in other states where there are more cases of the corona virus. “We should have got a positive case by now. But tests are also not being done properly,” the intern said.
Several Facebook posts with photographs pointed out the lacunae in the safety measures being taken in various city hospitals.
A post in Bengali on Facebook with the photo of a doctor dressed in a raincoat, mask and gloves said, “No, this is not to protect from the rain but Personal Protective Equipment to protect from corona virus at the recently declared corona centre (Medical College, Kolkata). Is the value of health workers’ lives so less that they will be given rain coats at work?” The post also has the photograph of a health worker in full gear as directed by WHO.
Another post said, “So, these actually are the PPEs provided by the State for the doctors at Medical College… No face shield, No N95 (masks) and totally miles away from the WHO guidelines.”
One more post had photographs of torn rain coats provided to the doctors at ID Hospital. “This is what we are getting at BELEGHATA ID HOSPITAL for EMERGENCY DUTY in the name of PPE,” it read. The post also pointed out that the masks they were given have been repeatedly used.
Midnapore Medical College received N95 masks only a week back. “We have three masks for a week. We use and reuse them,” said the intern at Murshidabad college.
When contacted, Sudeshna Gupta, Special Secretary, Health acknowledged that she had heard about such posts. “But I cannot say whether they are true or what is being done,” Special Secretary told eNewsroom.
There is a shortage of N95 masks in the country and the shortage may get worse worldwide, a report had said. However, doctors and other health workers who are dealing with COVID-19 patients are required to have proper protective gear to avoid getting infected. One of three doctors in Mumbai who was infected died recently.
The shortage of proper PPE has also been reported from other parts of the country.
The health ministry falls under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose work so far against coronavirus has been lauded as she has led from front and has been seen on many videos meeting medical staffs, marking social distancing circles for customers at market. But the situation of lack of PPEs in government hospitals needs her immediate attention.