About 600 new cases of Covid-19 are officially detected per day at the moment. In contact with infected patients, more and more hospital staff are also infected. A painful situation according to some, manageable according to others.
“Tonn work with pasian pozitif, to pa pou pozitif twa osi? says a nurse from the Subramania Bharati Eye Hospital to his colleague, who replies that she did not touch him. In the same establishment, another employee, who was to provide night service, calls to say that he is sick and will not be able to come to work. From one hospital to another, history repeats itself, we learn. Hospital staff members are infected “after a batch” with Covid-19.
One out of two patients
According to various sources in regional hospitals, almost one in two new patients who present for care is positive for coronavirus. With Covid-19 circulating throughout the population, hospital staff members, although fully vaccinated, undoubtedly have a high risk of being infected in turn. This is starting to cause concern among these employees who, with the approach of the end-of-year celebrations, would like to work in peace and above all not to fall ill.
The situation could possibly worsen during the festive period, due to the increased promiscuity in public places and during family and friend gatherings, where many will not wear the sanitary mask, estimates Dr Soobaraj Sok Appadu, director of the New ENT Hospital. “However, if the peak has already been reached, we should on the contrary witness a stabilization, or even a drop in the number of new cases”, continues the doctor.
But for now, the rise in the number of new Covid-19 cases is complicating the operation of various hospital departments where staff members have taken sick leave after testing positive. A tension exacerbated by the absences linked to the last “local leaves” that employees will not be authorized to take between December 15 and January 15. As a result, those who are present must work overtime, or even combine two “shifts”, so that patients are not penalized.
“We are operating with a reduced workforce. Some of the staff must therefore work a little more to ensure the continuity of service. It’s hard but everyone is doing the right job. We make do with the staff we have,” says Dr. Vinesh Sewsurn, president of the Medical and Health Officers Association. Same story on the side of the Hospital Attendants. “They are exhausted. In some departments, one person ends up doing the work of three,” said Rajshree Thylamay, president of the Ministry of Health Workers’ Union.
Despite the lack of staff, no service is paralyzed, we are assured. “We’re going to work the march,” say Rajshree Thylamay, Krishnadev Boodia, president of the Ministry of Health Transport Workers Union, and a Records Officer who did not wish to be named. According to them, replacements are always found thanks to the “bank” system (overtime) or to a redistribution of personnel.
But given the delay in the payment of overtime for some departments, some refuse to do more or accept reluctantly, underline our interlocutors. To limit absenteeism, a reward system should be put in place for those who do not take their leave during the first half of December, adds Bholanath Jeewuth, secretary of the Nurses Union. According to him, all the hospital wards are filled with various types of patients.
Despite the cases of Covid-19 among staff members, “the situation is stable,” said Ram Nowzadick, president of the Nursing Association. “We are not in a crisis situation like we were when the Delta variant was rampant. There are absences but hospital work continues with the support of those who agree to work overtime. A ‘pool’ of personnel is also called upon if necessary,” he explains.
According to Ram Nowzadick, it is a “low rate” of staff who are infected with the coronavirus. This is also supported by Dr. Sok Appadu. “Hospital management is dynamic and is done according to the situation,” he says.
Wearing a mask recommended
Apart from hospitals, health centers and medical practices, wearing a sanitary mask has not been compulsory since November. However, it remains recommended in places of high affluence and particularly for vulnerable people, recall Dr Bhooshun Ramtohul, president of the Government Medical Consultant in Charge Association, and Dr Soobaraj Sok Appadu. They also urge the entire population to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or to be administered the “booster dose” to be better protected.
According to Dr Sok Appadu, despite the rise in the number of cases, most Covid patients are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. It is mainly elderly people, with a comorbidity or who have not completed their vaccination schedule, who are hospitalized.
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Covid-19 puts hospitals under pressure
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