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174 doctors, 116 nurses, 199 health workers have died due to COVID-19, Says Govt

A total of 174 doctors, 116 nurses and 199 healthcare workers have died due to COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the union government informed in Lok Sabha on February 5 citing data from states received under an insurance scheme. In written reply to a question, Union Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey stated that duly implementing a series of containment measures including lockdown and promotion of COVID-19-appropriate behaviours, The country has been able to successfully handle and blunt the aggressive progression of the same virus.

Elaborating on the measures taken to contain the same, the minister asserted that, “dedicated health infrastructure focused on COVID-19 was identified and earmarked to manage surge in cases”. “Based on the intimations received from the states under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance Scheme for Health Workers fighting COVID-19, 174 doctors, 116 nurses and 199 healthcare workers have died due to this pandemic as on February 2,”.

As on February 3, there are 15,17,506 isolation beds and 79,385 ICU beds with 40,311 ventilators available in the country, the minister asserted. Currently, 1,214 government and 1,152 private laboratories are undertaking coronavirus testing. “As of now the case per million and death per million in the country are 7,719 and 111, respectively which is much lower compared to the status in many developed Nations”. Also, Necessary monitoring is being undertaken for COVID-19 on a regular basis, Choubey asserted.

Moreover, Responding to a question on the number of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers engaged in various government hospitals for COVID-19 duty, He asserted that as health is a state subject, there is no centralised data being maintained by the Ministry of Health on it. An additional incentive of Rs 1,000 per month is being paid to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in view of their important contribution towards the COVID-19 pandemic-related work.

The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP): Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19 was launched with effect from March 30 in 2020 to provide comprehensive personal accident cover of Rs 50 lakh to around 22.12 lakh healthcare providers, including community health workers and private health workers drafted by the government for COVID-19-related responsibilities, PTI news agency reported.

Significantly, The Ministry of Health provided guideline on infection prevention and control practices to the state governments to minimize the risk of infection to healthcare workers. The Ministry in consultation with the Department of Personnel and Training has also directed state governments to consider quarantine period of healthcare workers as “on duty”. The Union Ministry of Health has also issued direction to the chief secretaries of states and union territories on provision for accommodation facilities for quarantine of healthcare workers.

However, Guidelines on rational use of PPE for hospital and community settings were issued.  These guidelines followed a risk-based approach and recommended type of PPE that needs to be used in high and low risk areas. The healthcare workers were provided with hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis and prevention of infection. An advisory to that effect was also issued by the ministry on March 23, 2020.

Despite the same, States are being supported in terms of supply of logistics, Choubey added. So far 1.69 crore PPE Kits, 4.08 crore N-95 masks, 11.16 crore tablets of Hydroxychloroquine have been supplied to states, UTs and central government hospitals. In the context of ongoing health crisis, the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 was promulgated on April 22 last year. It was brought before Parliament, passed and notified on September 29. The amendment also provides for safety and security of healthcare service personnel from acts of violence.

(With the inputs of PTI).

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