The Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS on Friday termed the government decision ending the need to quarantine healthcare workers after COVID-19 duty a “non-scientific approach”, saying it will prove detrimental for the workers, the patients and the effort to contain the pandemic.
In a letter to the AIIMS Director, the RDA said if availability of healthcare workers (HCWs) to run hospital services is a problem then there should be provision to test them on the day 5-7 before they return to work to ensure workplace transmission doesn”t occur.
Shortening the quarantine duration and denying mandatory testing on day 5-7 post-duty will turn to a deadly combination which will derail the battle against pandemic, the RDA said.
“We would like to bring to your kind notice the government”s ill-founded and non-scientific approach to revise already existing protocol of two-week COVID duty followed by a two-week quarantine, will prove to be detrimental for the HCWS, patients and the country”s effort to contain the pandemic,” the letter signed by RDA President Adarsh Pratap Singh and General Secretary Srinivas Rajkumar T read.
As per the Union Health Ministry guidelines issued on May 15, healthcare workers serving in COVID-19 areas do not need to undergo quarantine unless there has been violation in the use of PPE or any other form of high-risk exposure or they have symptoms suggestive of coronavirus infection.
Previously, all healthcare personnel doing COVID-19 duty had to work for 14 days and it was then followed by a two-week quarantine to ensure that they did not spread the infection to anyone else.
“Shortening the quarantine duration and denying mandatory testing on day 5-7 post-duty will turn to a deadly combination which will derail the battle against pandemic.
“This is an act of government forsaking the people of the country and their saviors the underpaid, overworked doctor with minimal safety precautions in most parts of the country during pandemic as cases approaches its peak,” they said.
“We as healthcare workers are accepting the increased risk of acquiring the infection but not inadvertently transmitting the infection to people who come in contact with us for treatment or otherwise.”
It suggested that hospitals should not make HCWs work more than 6 hrs in PPE per day and that two weeks of quarantine is essential to avoid burnout.
“We must acknowledge, not only the infection and challenges of wearing PPE, but also, the psychological impact of COVID duties on HCWs in this Mental Health Awareness month,” they said in their letter.