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Monday, Jul 27, 2020 14:15 [IST]

Last Update: Monday, Jul 27, 2020 08:37 [IST]

A safety net for our healthcare workers

With two healthcare frontliners testing positive for Covid-2019 in the State on Saturday, the focus has shifted on the safety of all our frontline workers.
There is no denying the fact that medics and healthcare workers in the country are exhausted, dealing with Covid-19 cases for more than six now. Same goes for Sikkim, where positive cases are on a steady rise and now it stands at 500 plus and counting. And since they do not see an end to the pandemic, not at least for the next six months, the government must focus on their well-being and safety as well.
Given the grim scenario posed by this sneaky virus across the country, we need the healthcare workers to be fully fit to take care of the patients, Covid or otherwise. The system will be in jeopardy if enough people are not there to take care of the sick in hospital. Sikkim is still not amongst the worst-affected states in the country, but once the healthcare workers are infected, it will cost us many lives. The spread of the infection will happen anyway; a lockdown cannot prevent it. But it can slow down the spread and provide a much-needed respite to healthcare workers.  Experts say that a strategically planned complete lockdown for three weeks can give a breather for these professionals.
Frontline workers and health officials admit that they are tired and worn out. But they know that they are not done yet. They have been working round-the-clock preparing contact lists, tracking down people, testing suspected cases, and so on. The infection is spreading real quick and just monitoring the clusters is a tough task. The extension of the lockdown in Sikkim by another week is a wise decision taken by the Government. If a lockdown is what it takes to contain the spread, then it is the need of the hour.
Infectious disease experts say that a planned lockdown of three weeks might help contain the spread of the virus for at least a few more weeks. Considering the present condition of the healthcare workers and officials, it makes a lot of sense in cutting them some slack. The strategy for lockdown should be total restriction on social gatherings. Testing should be done in clusters that pose a high risk of spreading the infection. A well-planned lockdown can definitely bring down the spread to some level.
Also, all health and care staff should be routinely tested for Covid-2019 once or twice a week, according to one of the UK’s most eminent scientists, Sir Paul Nurse, whose team’s research suggests 45% of staff were infected with coronavirus at the peak of the pandemic in England, most of whom showed no symptoms. Two main things are emphasised here: the importance of regular systematic testing of all healthcare workers, including not only frontline doctors and nurses but support staff, ambulance drivers and other healthcare providers. These all need to be tested. Frequent, routine testing was essential to ensure the safety of health and care staff and give the public the confidence to go into hospitals.
Healthcare workers deserve to work in a safe environment. Routine testing would be important before a possible second wave in the coming months.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi