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Here's how doctors are being put to risk in Telangana. I'm one of 48 corona+ docs

Posted June 5th, 2020, 10:23 AM IST

Here's how doctors are being put to risk in Telangana. I'm one of 48 corona+ docs

A total of 48 post-graduate doctors have tested positive for Covid-19 so far in Telangana. I'm one of them. This is my account of how medical professionals, while being hailed as frontline COVID-19 warriors, are being put to risk in hospitals in the state. This in turn increases the risk to the patients we treat, our families and our immediate contacts. All of this can be prevented.

I remember the day I must have become infected. I was in the operation theatre assisting in a c-section for a suspected COVID-19 patient. Her samples could not be collected immediately as she had developed high blood pressure and managing her took time. Though she was a suspected COVID-19 patient, 10 post-graduate doctors were exposed to her. Because it was the weekend and Ramzan Id, her samples were collected only after three days. The gap led to the spread of infection in the hospital as the patient was moving around.

Senior doctors and post-graduates prepared for the operation on Tuesday despite knowing her suspected COVID-19 state. They all had only one thing in mind: the patient was important and there must be no complications.

With this in mind, the team of doctors set to work. The c-section went off smoothly and mother and child were safe.

Since we did not have any symptoms, we were told to come to work.

The symptoms came two days later. First it was a PG student who stays in the Osmania Medical College hostel who developed a fever and muscle pains. After her, my friends and I started showing symptoms. Despite that we were told to come to work. It was only when the whole group showed symptoms and the MBBS intern was noticed by hostel authorities that our cases were taken seriously.

Tests were conducted and those exposed to the pregnant women were first identified. After that, those who came in contact with us were tested.

I am now COVID-19 positive with mild symptoms of sore throat and cough. I'm now in home quarantine.

My chest X-ray has shown infiltration of the virus and there is scarring which means that the virus is there in my body despite my mild symptoms. If I go out, the symptoms will aggravate and the virus will spread.

My colleagues and I along with Telangana Junior Doctors Association took the stand that the Petlaburj Maternity Hospital must not be the source of community spread. It cannot become a hotspot. There are vulnerable, immune-compromised pregnant women coming in and they cannot be put at risk.

We had to take this stand as there was reluctance in the government to quarantine all the 10 PG students. They were keen that those who have tested negative must come to work. But they are exposed and will become positive as the virus is now in the hospital.

I will report to work only after seven days if no other symptoms develop. At home, I am in a room where my parents keep food for me at the door. I wash my own plate and let it dry for four hours before handing it over to them. They do not come into the room. I do not go out of the room. I clean the room and wash my clothes. They too are at risk and they are co-operating to the maximum. I have been told that if there is any fever I must report to Gandhi Hospital.

The hospital needs attention from government in terms of sanitisation, screening of patients and proper management in isolation. The isolation ward of 20 beds has each and everyone is walking in and out. Our hospital is for poor patients and we have 450 pregnant women in the out-patient department everyday – where can there be social distancing for them? If we too carry the virus, it will be a disaster.