42 health workers, including 23 doctors from Mitford Hospital infected
An alarmingly high number of doctors have been infected by Covid-19, with another 62 medics testing positive for the virus across the country in a 30-hour span until 6pm on Monday.
The total number of infected health officials now stands at 170, which was only 54 on April 15 according to Bangladesh Doctors Foundation (BDF), a physician’s forum, till Monday morning.
The tally thus saw nearly a three-fold rise within just five days.
Of the infected doctors, at least two are currently being treated in ICUs, according to Bangladesh Doctors’ Foundation (BDF).
Meanwhile, at least 42 healthcare officials, including 23 doctors of Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital, commonly known as Mitford Hospital, have tested positive for Covid-19 till Sunday.
Confirming the matter to Dhaka Tribune on Monday, the hospital's Director, Brig Gen Kazi Md Rashid Un Nabi, said: “A total of 42 of our people have tested positive for the virus so far (till Sunday). Of those infected, 23 are doctors, 10 are nurses and nine others are members of our supporting staff.
“We took samples from 69 of our staff on Saturday after 22 tested positive on Thursday and Friday.”
According to sources, recently an individual from Narayanganj, providing false information, had undergone surgery at the hospital.
When it was revealed that the patient was a resident of one of the coronavirus clusters of the country, he was immediately tested for coronavirus and the result was positive.
Following this incident, some 11 doctors were found to be Sars-Cov2 positive till Thursday.
Mohammad Maksud, head of the forensic department of Mitford Hospital, who is also under isolation right now, told Dhaka Tribune that if the patient from Narayanganj had not lied about his identity the doctors, nurses and staff who operated on him could have used PPEs during the surgery.
Nearly half the cases in Dhaka alone
Dhaka and Narayanganj, the two major clusters of community transmission of the deadly virus, continue to be the danger zone for doctors as well, since most of them were infected in the two districts.
Dhaka city alone has 77 cases, accounting for almost half of the countrywide confirmed cases.
In an ever grim picture of the growing cases of doctors being infected, Sir Salimullah Medical College (SSMC) Mitford Hospital itself confirmed 25 cases - the highest at any hospital in the country.
With eight infected physicians, the Combined Military Hospital in the capital city ranked second on the list.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka Medical College Hospital , and Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital jointly hold the third position with five cases each.
With just one case in Savar, Dhaka as a district recorded 73 cases, followed by Narayanganj (13 cases), and Gazipur and Kishoreganj - both having 11 cases each.
Discontent over ‘substandard’ PPE
The number of doctors testing positive for Covid-19 keeps rising amid widespread discontent among the health professionals, who have been demanding personal protection equipment (PPE).
Expressing his frustration over “substandard” PPEs being provided to health professionals, BDF founder and Chief Administrator Dr Nirupam Das told Dhaka Tribune: “All we need is quality PPE, especially masks and goggles.”
Furthermore, in a Facebook post on Sunday afternoon, the doctor wrote: “In the work order for PPE procurement, specifications were mentioned for every single item.
“None of the items has been supplied in accordance with the specifications. Locally made N95 masks and low-quality gowns have been provided (to health workers) instead,” he added.
However, the bill against the items was estimated considering high-quality PPE, Dr Nirupam wrote, seeking the prime minister’s intervention in this regard.
A total of 25% of doctors and nurses and around 60% of support staff engaged in treating coronavirus patients are yet to receive PPE, suggests a latest Brac survey.
However, the government claims that until April 17 it distributed 1,069,264 sets of PPE across the country and has 390,032 more in stock.
Mentionable, a doctor of the state-run Noakhali General Hospital was served a show-cause notice on Saturday for his April 16 social media post claiming shortage of PPE at his department.
Also, the government on April 15 ordered Directorate General of Nursing and Midwifery staff members to refrain from speaking in public or to the media without prior permission.
Bangladesh reported the first death of a doctor infected with Covid-19 on April 15. Previously, a doctor died with symptoms similar to Covid-19 in Dhaka on April 12.
DGHS seems relaxed about health professionals’ safety
On April 12, the government took measures to ensure accommodation for the physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers - providing healthcare facilities to coronavirus patients in the dedicated hospitals - at 20 hotels.
But several media reports later on claimed that many of the hotel authorities were unaware of the development.
Bangladesh International Hotel Association Secretary Mohsin Hoq Himel also said, not a single hotel registered with the platform was officially contacted by the government as of Sunday.
When contacted recently by a TV reporter over the divergent situation, Director General of Health Services Prof Abul Kalam Azad vented his anger, asking him to focus on those coming out on the streets.
“Brothers (journalists) please do something else. It is not necessary to think of where doctors will stay.
“Do something that will stop the people from coming out on the streets. The number of patients is increasing and you are concerned about where doctors will stay,” he further said.
Dhaka Tribune’s Kamrul Hasan contributed to the story.