In Maharashtra, where Mumbai and Pune have emerged as the two coronavirus hotspots, there is a new worrying development: Health care workers within hospitals have started testing positive for COVID-19 resulting in the sealing of Wockhardt and Jaslok hospitals, two of Mumbai’s premier private hospitals.
When the outpatient and new admissions departments of central Mumbai’s Wockhardt Hospital were initially closed some days ago, it gave rise to speculation. But when three doctors and 26 nurses tested positive for the virus the hospital was sealed on April 6. Similarly, at south Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital it was first the OPD and new admissions that were halted. In Jaslok’s case, a nurse circulated a message on social media saying more than one staff member had contracted the virus and not just one as the hospital authorities were claiming. Following up on the nurses’ video, the BMC called a meeting with hospital authorities where it was found that 10 staffers were infected. The hospital had failed to inform the staff about this. A statement from Jaslok says: The hospital has suspended its OPD and elective admissions temporarily….” The BMC says the hospital has been sealed and all those who had come in touch with the infected nurse “are being tested and safety measures being taken”. The hospital also says it has tested nearly 1,000 staff members and all have tested negative.
Hospital authorities are in the process of tracing how the infection began. In Wockhardt’s case there was a COVID-19 patient who could have been the source of the spread. He was a 70-year-old positive case who later died. In Jaslok’s case, too, the hospital did have a coronavirus case but the first nurse who contracted the virus was not treating that patient.
These cases highlight the threat to health care workers who so far have been neglected in terms of personal protection equipment like face masks, gloves, body suits and so on.