Chandigarh’s Director of Health Services, Dr Suman Singh on Friday expressed concern over the rate at which COVID is spreading in the Union Territory and speculated that there may soon be a shortage of health care staff in hospitals.
“The rate of transmission of the virus is very high. With the rate at which healthcare workers have contracted the virus during this wave, we anticipate that we will soon face staff shortages across all of our departments. As our OPD numbers are huge, we will soon start teleconsultation in most of the departments of GMSH-16, and appointment will be given to only those patients who need medical check-up. The number of cases is doubling and there is a community spread,” said Dr Singh.
Dr. Singh said the duration of illness is short, and although hospitalization rates are low and a large number of patients – more than 909 – are currently in home isolation. “There is no way to predict how the virus will behave and how it might mutate. This time more adults are getting infected, many of whom are living asymptomatic or having mild infection,” she said.
“We have sent 15 per cent random samples for whole genome sequencing and we are monitoring over 682 international travelers from high-risk countries. We track active cases on a daily basis and are doing extensive contact tracing. Many people who have been vaccinated do not wear a mask because they think they will not be infected. We need to remember that vaccination only protects us from the severe form of the disease, not the fullest form of infection. We need to be very cautious at this time, wear masks and avoid gatherings,” Dr Singh said.
352 health care workers in PGI campus positive since December 20
Dr Singh believes that the increase in COVID cases among health care workers is in line with the increase in cases among the population at large.
The data showed that a total of 352 health care workers at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh have tested positive since December 20 last year. Of these, 157 are doctors – junior residents, senior residents and faculty members. More than 95% of health care workers who tested positive had received both doses of the COVID vaccine. In almost all such cases, the doctors noted, the infection has been mild. Health care workers who are staying in hostels on the campus of the institute and who do not have provision for home isolation, have been isolated in Nehru Hospital Extension Ward. At the moment it is difficult to be sure which country these cases belong to? omicron variant or not. The administration is closely monitoring the situation and is taking all possible steps to control the situation. All departments have been advised to strictly follow COVID-appropriate behavior and employees have been instructed to wear proper masks at all times. The administration in association with the Association of Resident Doctors has decided to convert all mess facilities in PGI Hostel into ‘take away’ eateries. All sporting events/tournaments have been canceled and indoor courts have been closed. Teaching activities in PGI are being conducted through online mode.
‘Covid care center will reduce the burden on health facilities’
Chandigarh Administration has called upon the willing organizations/associations to voluntarily set up Mini COVID Centers in the city in view of the new spread of COVID infection.
As of now, two COVID care centers are operational in the city, with about 25 patients in both the facilities. Any individual, association, voluntary organization, NGO, religious organization, corporate, firm or trust can come forward to set up Mini COVID Care Center for asymptomatic positive patients. Living, food, medicines and every other facility in such centers should be free. Patients will be discharged after necessary isolation/medical care as per the prescribed protocol. In case the patient’s health deteriorates at any centre, he may be shifted to the appropriate hospital subject to the availability of beds.
Dr VK Nagpal, Medical Superintendent, GMSH-16 and Joint Director, Health, said that in the second wave, especially during its peak in April and May, these centers proved to be highly beneficial. “With cases rising at an alarming rate, these centers are the need of the hour, so that positive patients, who are asymptomatic, can be isolated here. Those whose homes do not have enough space to be quarantined can also be admitted to these centres. We regularly monitor the progress of these patients. These centers will reduce the burden on health facilities and there will be no fatigue of staff in hospitals. Also, with these centres, those who need hospitalization and medical attention will not face any difficulty,” Dr Nagpal said.