Delhi mulls 14-day shift, 14-day quarantine for health workers dealing with Covid casesUpdated: Mar 31, 2020 00:13 IST
To minimise the chances of the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the Delhi government is considering a 14-day shift for all medical teams working with Covid-19 patients, followed by a 14-day quarantine at the accommodation provided by the government.
So far, 97 people have tested positive for the disease and two have died in Delhi.
During the 14-day working period, the medical teams have also been asked to work longer hours than usual: one team will do a 10-hour and another a 14-hour shift. Usually, there are three shifts for medical staff in a day: two eight-hour shifts and a 12-hour shift.
The designated accommodation for Covid-19 doctors working in Lok Nayak Hospital and GB Pant hospitals will be the hotel, The Lalit, on Barakhamba Road, where the district magistrate is making arrangements for 100 rooms, according to two Delhi government circulars that HT has seen.
“The longer shifts have been decided keeping in mind the infrastructure and shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but this might be changed in the future. The temperatures are rising and it is difficult to work 14 hours in the suits. Plus, it also does not allow urination or intake of water, which is difficult to do over a 14-hour period,” said a senior official from the Delhi government, requesting anonymity.
Longer shifts are not possible, experts agree.
“We need a huge workforce because a person should not work for more than four to six hours with the PPE. It is a multilayered suit which makes it very hot. Plus, in Covid-19 wards, the air conditioning will deliberately be switched off to prevent the circulation of the virus. A Covid-19 ICU will also be a stressful place to work in,” said Dr Devi Shetty, founder and chairman of Narayana Health group.
Currently, Covid-19 patients are being treated at designated blocks across eight government and some private hospitals. To decrease the chances of infection being transmitted to others in the hospitals, the Delhi government is working on creating three dedicated Covid-19 hospitals in a step-by-step approach as the numbers go up.
In the first step, a 200-bed facility at Lok Nayak Hospital and a 400-bed facility at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital in Tahirpur are being started.
At Lok Nayak, the emergency building is being converted into a Covid-19 block, with the non-Covid-19 surgical emergency being moved to Sushruta Trauma Centre in Civil Lines and medical emergency to the new medicine block.
“The government has now integrated the management of Lok Nayak Hospital, GB Pant Hospital and Maulana Azad Medical College to effectively manage the resources. The first 200-bed Covid-19 facility is coming up in the emergency block and we are in the process of moving the non-Covid-19 surgical and medical emergencies to Sushruta Trauma Centre and New Medicine Block respectively. During the first phase, the Covid-19 patients in need of ventilation will be admitted to GB Pant hospital,” said Dr JC Passey, medical director of the Lok Nayak hospital campus.
Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital has already set aside 400 beds. “We have stopped all urology and gastrointestinal surgeries to free up beds. Only cardiac procedures are being done. There is a screening mechanism for patients coming to the out-patients department (OPD), which will be suspended when the numbers start rising,” said another senior official from Delhi government health department.
The upcoming hospital in Burari will start running with 1,000 new beds, of which 10 to 15% will have ventilators, if there is a surge in cases. This hospital will be run by teams from Lok Nayak Hospital.