Tamil Nadu

No quarantine, stay for govt. doctors

Chennai: 27/09/2020, For City: Nurseing care in King Institute Covid 19 Hospital, Guindy. Photo: M. Karunakaran  

Not all government doctors in Tamil Nadu are being granted a seven-day quarantine after completion of the week-long duty in COVID-19 isolation wards. In many districts, no accommodation is being provided for doctors on COVID-19 duty, forcing them to return to their houses or hostels, raising the risk of transmission.

Last year, government doctors were granted a mandatory seven-day quarantine after COVID-19 duty. They had to undergo compulsory testing to return to work. During their posting in isolation wards and during their quarantine, accommodation was provided to prevent the transmission of infection.

“Now, in many places, doctors are being forced to do continuous duty due to manpower shortage. There is no clarity and uniformity on quarantine rules. The government should clarify its stand and grant quarantine, as before, since the virus is causing infections even among vaccinated individuals. There is a need to recruit additional doctors in places where there is a shortage,” said a government doctor on condition of anonymity.

The quarantine period has been reduced in several institutions from one week to just three days. “The situation is pathetic. For instance, in Thanjavur, doctors working in isolation wards are being given compulsory quarantine only for three days,” another doctor said.

In a few places, there is no quarantine. A doctor in Salem said, “We are posted on regular duty following COVID-19 duty without any quarantine period. COVID-19 cases are rising, and the lack of quarantine poses the risk of infection among healthcare workers. No accommodation is provided for doctors.” Going back to regular duty also puts patients at risk, doctors added.

Right now, medical college hospitals in Chennai grant a seven-day quarantine period to doctors. “Most government hospitals under the Directorate of Medical and Rural Services follow a three-day quarantine. Food and accommodation is provided in some institutions such as medical colleges in Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore, while no food/accommodation is provided in most GHs coming under the DMS’ control,” a doctor in Tiruchi said.

There are also instances of pending payments to hotels where accommodation was provided earlier, a few doctors said.

The risk of cross infection can result in a shortage of manpower. “A few doctors have already tested positive and are on leave,” he said. This also poses a risk to family members of healthcare providers. Another doctor said unlike earlier, there is no mandatory testing after COVID-19 duty either.

K. Senthil, president of the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors’ Association said in spite of vaccination, doctors should be given a week’s quarantine after COVID-19 duty. “In many places, they are unable to give a week’s quarantine to doctors. But if we are going to do this for another four months, many will get exhausted,” he said. He said it was unfortunate that recruitments and transfers, which were annual exercises, had been withheld, citing the model code of conduct.

A Health official, when contacted, said in most places, seven-day quarantine was being granted. “Deans of the respective institutions are given the option to decide on the number of days, considering the patient load and doctors strength,” he said.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 12:05:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/no-quarantine-stay-for-govt-doctors/article34353697.ece

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