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Over the past few days over 300 healthcare workers and doctors from Delhi, including 90 from the government-run Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, over 50 from AIIMS and Safdarjung, and 13 from the Ganga Ram Hospital, a private facility, have tested positive.
157 doctors at Mumbai's King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital tested positive over the past four days. 61 have tested positive at four hospitals operated by the JJ Group - JJ, GT, Cama, and St George's. Another 30 tested positive at Sion Hospital. Across Maharashtra - which expects over two lakh active cases by the month-end - over 260 are positive so far.
154 doctors and medical staff from Bihar, including 72 from Patna's Nalanda Medical College and Hospital have tested positive since Sunday, as have nearly 300 from Bengal - including from the Calcutta Medical College Hospital and the NRS Medical College Hospital.
Dozens of doctors have also tested positive in Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, where 35 staff members at Lucknow's Medanta Hospital were Covid positive on Tuesday. According to news agency PTI, 80 doctors and students at the Rajindra Hospital and Medical College in Punjab's Patiala have also tested positive.
With Covid cases continuing to spike as they are - India reported over 90,000 new cases in 24 hours this morning, an increase of 55 per cent from the day before - the prospect of a shortage of qualified medical professionals brings back worrying memories of the second wave, when the government had to turn to medical students to treat patients.
"There will be more cases, more hospitalisations... Covid is rising exponentially... faster than second wave. Earlier we used to see two to three admissions a day. Now we see nearly 20," Dr Suresh Kumar, Director of Delhi's LNJP Hospital, told NDTV.
The silver lining, though, could be that patients in the third wave, including doctors, seem to be recovering quicker, particularly if they are vaccinated. "Whoever is getting admitted they are improving in three to five days... they are testing negative, and we are discharging," Dr Akash Khobragade, the Medical Superintendent at St George's Hospital, told NDTV.
Medical professionals are pleading with people to get vaccinated and follow protocol - wear face masks, sanitise hands, and maintain social distance. For doctors and healthcare workers the risk also includes frequent contact with Covid patients.
The Indian Medical Association waved a red flag early last month when it urged the centre to announce booster vaccine doses for all healthcare workers. Three weeks later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did, but these will not be rolled out for till January 10 - and a few more days will pass before the third dose takes full effect.
Calls for doctors and healthcare workers to be better protected - whether this means priority booster doses - come as India's 'R' factor (the rate at which the virus spreads) hit 2.69 today - a full 1.0 higher than it was at the peak of the second wave.
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