14% frontline health workers in Kerala contracted COVID-19 due to PPE reuse

Nearly 8pc of healthcare workers cited having food together in groups, without proper protection/PPE as the reason for contracting the virus

A total of 14 per cent of healthcare workers in Kerala contracted coronavirus due to shortage, reuse or improper usage of PPE (personal protective equipment) kit.

According to a study conducted among the infected frontline healthcare workers by the State Department of Health and Family Welfare, around 14 per cent of health workers have complained about absence of adequate PPE kits while at work. Shortage and reuse of the kits also have cited as reasons by few healthcare workers.

Nearly eight per cent of healthcare workers cited having food together in groups, without proper protection/PPE as the reason for contracting the virus. Improper handling of throat swab samples and fomites also has been identified as reason by few others.

More than 70 per cent of the positive health workers had an identifiable positive person as contact (a patient, colleague or relative). Around 14 per cent of health workers detected their disease status through the sentinel surveillance.

A total of 267 healthcare workers including nurses, nursing assistants, doctors, housekeeping staff, clerks, ambulance drivers, health inspectors, physiotherapists, lab technicians and ASHA workers have contracted the virus till July 20.

Among the positive cases, 41 per cent are doctors and nurses. As many as 60 nurses contracted the virus while on duty (23 per cent) while 47 doctors also got infected (18 per cent). Twenty seven nursing assistants or attenders, 31 other paramedical staff, 38 office staff, 28 field staff and 34 ASHA workers also got infected.

Highest number of positive cases among health workers was reported in Thiruvananthapuram district.

The Health department through district surveillance units is constantly monitoring the rate of virus spread among health care workers both in government and private sectors. Based on the study, the probable reasons for the breach of protection can be identified. The study report will help the healthcare workers, institutions and the capacity building divisions in government and private sector Hospitals to build strong system.

The resource persons have been instructed to give thrust on capacity building and ensure follow up of protective measures at individual and institutional level, said Dr. Rajan Khobragade, principal secretary, Health and Family Welfare.

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