Published: 07th January 2022
Govt Stanley Medical College Hospital, Govt Kilpauk Medical College Hospital and others in Chennai turn into COVID clusters
In mid-December last year, the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital reported a major COVID-19 cluster of healthcare workers
The rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu shows signs of hurting the availability of healthcare workers, with three of the five dedicated government COVID hospitals in the capital city reporting clusters in recent days. Worryingly, medical students shared that more workers could have COVID but many are not getting tested to prevent staff shortages.
The state on January 6 reported 6,983 COVID-19 cases, almost five times more than the 1,489 cases reported on January 1. Despite 25,093 more persons being tested, the state’s test positivity rate reached 5.4 per cent on the day against 1.4 per cent on January 1.
Of the state’s 22,828 active cases on January 6, 11,494 are in Chennai. The capital city, which reported 3,759 cases on the day, accounts for 54 per cent of all new cases and had a TPR (test positivity rate) of a whopping 9.6 per cent on January 5.
Of the four main government facilities in the city, Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital was the latest to report a cluster with 11 doctors testing positive on January 6.
According to Dr R Shanti Malar, Dean, at least 25 doctors at the hospital have tested positive since January 1. Nearly 75 per cent of their samples show the ‘S’ gene drop, a marker for the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.
“Many here have symptoms. I too have symptoms. Only those with severe fever are getting tested. If the rest of us get tested, we might test positive and will have to isolate ourselves. Then there won’t be many doctors to do hospital work,” one student at Kilpauk said.
On January 5, Government Stanley Medical College Hospital too reported a cluster, with 30 final year MBBS students testing positive after returning from a tour. However, Dean Dr P Balaji said he would not term it a hospital cluster. “They had gone to celebrate New Year and were tested on their return. All are asymptomatic and admitted to the hospital,” he said. Seven postgraduate doctors and four nurses have also tested positive at Stanley in recent days, he added.
A senior doctor at the hospital revealed that several doctors have been contracting the infection from patients admitted for surgeries or non-COVID treatment, most of their samples showing the ‘S’ gene drop. “It started from January 1. Postgraduates, undergraduates and house surgeons are also testing positive,” the doctor said.
In mid-December, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital reported a major COVID-19 cluster of healthcare workers. The source of infection was a diabetic patient admitted for a surgical procedure. Subsequently, 3,965 people (patients, staff and their contacts) were tested and 94 were positive for COVID, with the samples of 63 showing an 'S' gene drop.
Director of Medical Education Dr R Narayana Babu informed that doctors should treat every patient as someone who has COVID-19 unless proven otherwise and those on duty in casualty wards should wear PPE kits. “We have given clear instructions on how to be safe in wards, outpatient units and in casualty wards. They should follow COVID appropriate behaviour and avoid having lunch in groups even in canteens,” he said.