Medical staff at greater risk of severe disease from Coronavirus: DAK

Srinagar: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Monday said doctors, nurses and paramedical staff are at greater risk of developing severe disease if they get infected with the novel (new) coronavirus.

“The novel virus seems to hit health care workers harder than others who contract the disease,” DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan said on Monday.

Dr Hassan said at least 41 health care workers have died in Italy and more than 5,000 medical personnel, including doctors, nurses, technicians, ambulance staff and other health employees have been infected by the virus since the outbreak there began. “At the epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Chinese officials have reported that nearly 3,400 health care workers have been infected with 22 deaths,” he said.
“We don’t know what is making them sicker than other patients. May be it is due to the higher dose of the virus they are receiving,” he said.

The DAK president said health care workers, especially the frontline, are at the highest risk of exposure to the virus. “Medical staff in high risk areas like ICU have more exposure to infection as the severely ill are more infective, and also they do the higher frequency of medical intervention and aerosol-generating procedures like intubation and respiratory/ airway suctioning,” he said.

Dr Hassan said it is imperative to protect doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and medical students because they are there to save lives. “Medical staff must remain safe because if health care workers collapse, the health system will shut down and people will die,” he said, adding that ‘extensive protective gear is the best way to safeguard clinical staff who treat COVID-19 patients’.

The DAK president said health care workers must self-monitor, report signs of illness and not engage in patient care while exhibiting respiratory symptoms. “Many health care workers have medical conditions that elevates risk of severe infection and death. Such work force should be redeployed away from high risk sites,” he added.

“With COVID-19 crisis likely to stretch over weeks to months, ensuring that health care workers get adequate rest and are supported as health care professional and as an individual will help to keep them going,” he added.