New Delhi: At least 37 doctors at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and 20 at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi have tested positive for Covid-19 over the past ten days, officials at the two hospitals said.
While Ganga Ram has admitted five of the 37 doctors who tested positive, all others at both the hospitals have “mild symptoms” and they are in home isolation, the officials said.
Six MBBS students of AIIMS have also contracted the virus, and they are also in home quarantine with mild symptoms.
Doctors at the Ganga Ram hospital told ThePrint Thursday their colleagues tested positive over the last one week to ten days.
“It appears they have got it from each other since doctors end up sitting together and sharing food so masks come off,” Dr S.P. Byotra of the Department of Medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital told ThePrint.
He added: “Given the current surge, we will have to go back to our basics and keep our masks on no matter what and sanitise regularly when meeting people.”
Most of these doctors are between 50 and 55 years of age, sources said.
Officials said all the cases are mild, adding that the five were admitted to hospital “in the larger interest of things” because they didn’t have “adequate home isolation options or have aged parents at home”.
The doctors are from various departments of the hospital, and not just the Covid-19 ward, a senior doctor clarified.
The 20 doctors who tested positive at AIIMS include two faculty members, while the rest are resident doctors. “Since the infection is mild, all are in home quarantine and the contacts of most of them have been traced and the process is still on for some,” said an official at the hospital, who did not wish to be named.
There are more than 3,000 doctors, including resident doctors and faculty members, working at AIIMS.
Dr Sujay Shah, senior cardiac consultant surgeon at Ganga Ram, meanwhile told ThePrint that all the 37 doctors who contracted the infection had symptoms varying from mild temperature, body ache and sore throat, while some of them had a runny nose too.
“If out of about 500 doctors, 37 have tested positive, we also need to understand that at a given time we have at least 100 patients at the hospital and another 700-1,200 outpatients every single day, depending on the Covid-19 situation,” he added.
Shah also said it shouldn’t be assumed that the doctors got the infection from the hospital. He said many of these doctors’ spouses are also medical professionals, who could be working in different clinics or hospitals, and it was possible that the doctors at Ganga Ram contracted the virus from them or surroundings other than their workplace.
On Wednesday, King George’s Medical University (KGMU) in Lucknow also reported that as many as 40 of its doctors, and also the vice-chancellor, have tested positive for Covid-19.
All 37 doctors have taken Covid vaccine
Each of the 37 doctors at Ganga Ram had received the vaccine, most of them both doses of the Covishield shots, hospital sources confirmed to ThePrint.
Among the 26 doctors and students at AIIMS, however, only two had taken the vaccine — one dose of Covaxin — according to an official.
At KGMU too, most of the doctors who tested positive had taken their vaccine, most of them both the shots, sources said. The hospital authorities, however, did not share details about their vaccination status.
Dr Byotra of Ganga Ram Hospital, however, said: “The vaccine is like a helmet as I’ve maintained from Day One. Those who wear helmet might save themselves from a bad accident but that doesn’t mean an accident can’t occur and they won’t get injured. One can only take the best possible precautions available to us,” Byotra said.
While the hospital did not share the vaccination schedule followed by these doctors, an official told ThePrint Friday, “Most of the doctors received the second dose of Covishield after a gap of 28 days.”
“To my knowledge, these doctors received the second dose of the vaccine about three weeks prior to them testing positive,” Dr Sujay Shah told ThePrint.
Meanwhile, sources in the hospital said there was concern among the senior resident doctors since patient load has been on the rise with the latest surge in cases, and they could not afford to let their staff be away for too long.
Delhi Thursday reported 7,437 new Covid-19 cases and 24 deaths, while over 90,000 tests were conducted. The positivity rate increased from 6.1% to 8.1% in a span of 24 hours, according to the government’s daily health bulletin.
While it will impact the strength of the doctors catering to Covid-19 patients, the hospital authorities said the priority was to ensure they quarantine, get proper treatment and recover well in time.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government Thursday night issued orders to 115 hospitals to reserve 50 per cent of beds for Covid treatment.
The AAP government also issued orders to increase beds at a few hospitals. GTB Hospital has been asked to increase the bed capacity from 500 to 1,000, and LNJP Hospital from 1000 to 1,500.
It also ordered dental and AYUSH practioners to be deployed at designated Covid hospitals in Delhi.
(This report has been updated to incorporate information about the positive cases from AIIMS)
Edited by Sanghamitra Mazumdar