The Kerala Medical Postgraduate Association (KMPGA), an organisation representing resident doctors and postgraduate (PG) medical students in government medical college hospitals (MCHs) in the State, has opposed the move to put them on duty at COVID-19 First-Line Treatment Centres (FLTC) that treat asymptomatic COVID-19 patients and those with mild symptoms. They have also sought proper quarantine facilities after attending duties at COVID-19 wards.
In a release, KMPGA functionaries pointed out that the resident doctors were in the front-line of the battle against COVID-19 and they also take care of non-COVID-19 routine duties. Many postgraduate medical students, however, had of late tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and many others are in quarantine after getting exposed to COVID-19 cases. This has created a scarcity of manpower as routine works in medical college hospitals are executed by the PG students and house surgeons in all departments, they said.
Infection clusters likely
They claimed that despite a Supreme Court order mandating quarantine for health-care workers who are part of COVID-19 duty, residents and house surgeons were not given the facility at institutions such as the Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram. They were put on non-COVID-19 duty without duty offs, saying there would be staff shortage. This could lead to infection clusters in hospitals and hostel campuses. There have been incidents of positive cases without any contact history and from non-COVID-19 wards. There could be a possible cluster of hospital cases in the future, they said. Against this backdrop, the proposal to join duty at FLTCs was not acceptable, the KMPGA functionaries said.
The association urged the authorities to hold testing of suspected samples outside the medical college hospitals. All asymptomatic patients, those with mild symptoms, and people with less severe symptoms should be shifted to COVID-19 hospitals in the periphery as well as FLTCs. Only those with severe symptoms should be admitted to the MCH and diagnosing their condition and the referral process should be done outside the hospital, they added.