Ever since India got hit by the Coronavirus Pandemic, the National Capital has been at the centre of several major crises time and again, from the migrant crisis to the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz gathering that led to the creation of several COVID-19 clusters across the country.
Now, Delhi is in the middle of another crisis- shortage of PPEs for health workers and rising cases of Coronavirus-affected medical staff. According to Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, 33 doctors have been affected due to the novel Coronavirus till now and the situation is “worrying”.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan held a review meeting via video conference with the top officials in Delhi, including the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Health Minister, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) commissioners and DCPs of all districts, along with surveillance officers and heads of government hospitals.
In this meeting, he said, “13 paramedics, 26 nurses, 24 field workers, 33 doctors are COVID19 affected. This is worrying.”
In fact, the number of health workers in Delhi getting Coronavirus-affected keeps on rising even after the Health Ministry wrote to the state governments, urging them to take utmost care of their healthcare professionals listing down specific measures to protect them from the novel Wuhan virus.
States have been recommended to use Hydroxychloroquine for prevention of COVID-19 in high risk population including all asymptomatic health workers who were involved in treatment of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases.
At the root of the health workers’ misery in Delhi is the lack of PPEs and medical gear which is absolutely indispensable in the battle against COVID-19, and according to News18 the nurses’ union, its members and the resident doctors, have this issue in common. They say, “We are prepared to fight it out, but cannot do the same without proper tools and weapons.”
Delhi is no bigger than a city, and handling the COVID-19 outbreak shouldn’t have been an uphill task for any Chief Minister, especially when it also happens to the National Capital of India and thus enjoys better facilities than any other part of India.
But Kejriwal’s apathy towards medical workers has landed the latter in a quagmire, with absolutely shocking reports of lack of PPEs, long working hours, and unhygienic accomodation for quarantined nurses- all of which make them susceptible to the novel Wuhan virus. For a state government that spends heavily on advertising its efforts in improving healthcare facilities, this is rather dubious.
A senior nursing staff from the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) hospital, speaking in the condition of anonymity, said, “We are receiving PPE kit supplies for a week or a month and we have been asked to ration it for that entire period among on-duty nurses. Since there is paucity of these kits, one out of three nurses on a shift gets to use the complete kit, while others have to make do with the usual gowns and masks. During the night shift, nurses are wearing the PPE kit for 12-hour straight. It is suffocating.”
LNJP Hospital happens to be one of the main hospitals in the battle against COVID-19. Now, as the number of Coronavirus cases rises in Delhi having already reached as high as 4,039 cases, the health workers are going to come under even greater burden.
Meanwhile, according to The Hindu, a total of 75 employees of Babu Jagjivan Ram Hospital has tested positive for Coronavirus. “Apart from this, three Delhi Police officers posted at the hospital also tested positive today [Monday]. The hospital is not functioning at present and there is no OPD or patients admitted,” a hospital source told The Hindu.
On the other hand, the Medical Director (MD) of Delhi government-run Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital and 68 other people who work at the hospital were quarantined after they came in contact with a doctor at the hospital who has tested positive for the virus.
The rising number of cases also speaks volumes of Kejriwal government’s inefficiency. Delhi has one of the highest number of cases in the country despite it being just a city which could have been easily managed even at micro levels. Much bigger and far more populous states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have fewer cases than Delhi.
There are nearly a 100 containment zones in Delhi and Dr. Harsh Vardhan feels that the periphery of these zones must be expanded as they pose a threat of further transmission into other parts of the National Capital.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal cannot get over his PR campaign even now. Recently, he was promoting Plasma therapy as a panacea for the novel Coronavirus. But the Centre has made it clear that the efficacy of this treatment is yet to be proven.
Delhi government’s performance has been one of detestable inefficiency. Delhi CM Kejriwal seems altogether apathetic towards nurses and other health workers who are at the front-lines of the fight against the Coronavirus Pandemic. As more and more doctors and other such professionals get indisposed due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Delhi could face a crippling shortage of medical professionals at a time of a severe public health emergency.