India had its first case of Coronavirus sometime around the end of January 2020, and since then, the number of cases has multiplied at an unexpected and unprecedented rate. The government, just like in other instances, has failed to act properly and immediately. Instead of helping the medical professionals and health care workers with the necessary protective measures and other equipment, it has put up a show of bizarre activities, ranging from banging utensils to showering flowers.
Are the medical professionals enjoying the show, especially when they cannot save themselves, let alone saving other people?
Here is a first-hand narrative of a medical intern at Medical College and Hospital Kolkata (MCK) who chooses to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.
“Presently, Medical College Kolkata is a dedicated COVID-19 treatment centre and is admitting only COVID-positive patients.
A few weeks back, the situation was worse. N-95 masks were not being provided to interns or Post-Graduate Teachers (PGTs). Proper protocols for screening suspected COVID-positive people were not being followed, in spite of asking the Medical Superintendent-cum-Vice-Principal (MSVP) to look into the matter more than once. The COVID-suspected people and the general patients were being treated in the same Emergency Room with only a screen separating them. Later, we interns drew up protocols ourselves after a lot of research, and the MSVP approved that.
The situation worsened when one patient in the Obstetric department and another patient in the Medicine Acute Female ward tested positive (due to lack of screening and patients withholding information). The interns and Post-Graduate Teachers who came in contact with them demanded immediate testing, which was initially denied by the administration. Later, after visiting them regularly, we managed to acquire the quarantine and testing facilities.
By then, many interns and PGTs tested positive. Around 40 health care workers tested positive, and this didn’t make it’s way to the news cycle and was barely reported on. Many of them have also been discharged by now.
The authority is still not segregating the severe ones from the mild/asymptomatic ones, which is why initially, some of the patients tested negative once and positive later, which means they were and are getting infected. One intern tested negative twice and then positive twice. It took them quite a lot of days to heal properly. Therefore, segregation is very much needed.
The condition has improved and presently, Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, is functioning as a COVID-centre and there is no dearth of PPE kits.”
On asked what they think of the Government’s decision to shower flowers, light candles, and bang utensils as a way to thank the frontline warriors, this is what the medical intern said:
“I personally feel they should be more worried about our protection. Once they have done that, these are definitely a pleasing gesture. THEY ( THE GOVERNMENT) SHOULD ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THE HEALTHCARE WORKERS FIRST AND THEY CAN THANK US LATER”
The intern also has a short message for the government(s), both central and state. That although safety measures have been taken and the condition seems to be much better, what needs to be done is proper testing. It’s not as important to focus on how many are contracting it as it is to test them and isolate them properly. The lockdown should continue religiously until the number of cases reduces to less than a quarter of what it is now and that the government needs to make sure that people who are the worst sufferers of the countrywide lockdown have access to basic necessities.
All we can hope for now is that the Governments (both Central and State) act more responsibly and sensibly. After all, if we fail to ensure proper protective measure for our protectors, who will protect us?