Preventing any infection, including coronavirus, is the responsibility of healthcare workers and hospitals, the Centre told the Supreme Court today amid a surge in infection among healthcare workers across the country. The court had asked the government's response to a petition that sought the provision of alternate accommodation for healthcare workers in view of the increasing instances of coronavirus among them.
Insisting that all protocols are already in place and the state governments are following them, the Centre said healthcare workers are using appropriate PPE --Personal Protection Equipment, a key safety measure -- and stand adequately protected against any potential exposure. The situation, the government said, carries no additional risk to their families and children, it said.
In the affidavit, the Centre further said the Hospital Infection Control Committees are responsible for implementing infection prevention and control activities for healthcare workers.
"The final responsibility lies with Health Care workers to prevent infection and to protect himself/herself. This true not only for the COVID but for the number of other infectious diseases to which a Health Care worker has potential to get exposed as part of his/her duty," the affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court read.
The Centre's assertion comes amid a huge increase in coronavirus cases at Delhi's premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Sources said more than 480 health workers at the Centrally-run medical institute have tested positive for coronavirus. The figure includes 19 doctors and 38 nurses. Among the infected doctors, two are faculty members and the rest are residents. Three of the patients have died.
The resident doctors and nurses of the hospital have been pointing to the PPE kits for a while, saying their quality is not up to the mark. Similar complaints have come from other hospitals.
Currently, PPEs are procured by the Centre from Hindustan Levers Limited, a Public Sector Utility under the health ministry. The kits are distributed to government-run hospitals, sources said.
In March, when there was a huge shortage of PPEs, Hindustan Levers was made the nodal procurement agency. At the time, the firm procured it from domestic and foreign sources and distributed it to the states.
Now, as many indigenous PPE producers have come into the market, the state governments are procuring them directly from government-licensed producers, sources said.