One in every 15 Covid-19 cases in Delhi is a healthcare worker
Over the last two weeks, clusters of Covid-19 cases have been reported from hospitals across the city, with the Delhi government-run 100-bed Babu Jagjivan Ram Memorial hospital in Jahangirpuri reporting the highest number of cases. So far, at least 65 healthcare workers—including doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, and hospital security staff—have tested positive for the infection in the hospital.
So far, at least 226 healthcare workers from 21 hospitals and several clinics across the city have tested positive for the infection. Almost all of these healthcare workers were not posted to the Covid-19 wings of the hospitals or the dedicated Covid-19 hospitals.
This accounts for approximately one in 15 of the total number of cases—3,108—reported in Delhi till Monday.
Why are so many doctors testing positive? It is because they are the ones still going out and meeting people—some infected—during the lockdown.
“During the lockdown, people are not stepping out and meeting others. Healthcare workers, on the other hand, are going out and treating several patients a day, which puts them at risk of getting the infection. Globally, it has been seen that healthcare workers are at the highest risk of getting the infection,” Giridhar R Babu, professor and head of life-course epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), said.
HT had earlier reported that hospitals are now becoming hotspots for new infections in Delhi.
Thirty-three healthcare workers tested positive for the infection over the last two weeks when the hospitals started actively testing its staff. “Max Healthcare has instituted mandatory Covid-19 testing for over 24,000 members of its staff and all the patients admitted in its hospitals. This will lead to a greater number of Covid-19 patients being identified, isolated and treated. We believe this is the best way to fight the pandemic,” the hospital said in a statement.
At least 60 healthcare workers have tested positive for the infection across nine Max healthcare hospitals in Delhi-NCR, Punjab and Uttarakhand. Refusing to give out a break-up of the cases, the hospital said in the statement that 2% of the 3,000 people across these nine hospitals had tested positive.
At Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital in Rohini, at least 29 healthcare workers have tested positive. At least 57 people were quarantined after they came in contact with a 40-year-old woman from Jahangirpuri suspected to have the infection.
A week ago, 14 people working in the non-Covid-19 paediatric ICU of Lady Hardinge Medical College had tested positive for the infection. Before that, in the first couple of weeks in April, a cluster of 26 healthcare workers with the infection was found at Delhi State Cancer Institute. Four cancer patients and one of their family members also contracted the infection, with two of the patients succumbing to it.
The government’s denial of community transmission is also responsible for the explosion of the cases among non-Covid-19 healthcare workers, according to experts.
“This is a fallout of the government’s denial of community transmission. If they had warned healthcare workers that community transmission was happening, they would have treated all their patients as potentially infected and would have been more cautious about infection control measures,” Dr T Jacob John, professor emeritus and former head of virology department at Christian Medical College, Vellore, said.
He added that the government should have admitted to community transmission and broadcast messages accordingly as soon as cases where the source of infection could not be traced started being reported.