Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar covid hospital
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visits the COVID-19 treatment centre, in Patna on June 19, 2020. Image Credit: ANI

Patna: Three laboratories testing COVID-19 samples in three top health institutes in Patna—the capital of India’s Bihar state—have been shut for the next three days after 15 doctors, lab technicians and other health workers were tested positive for the coronavirus. According to a report of Indian Medical Association, around 40 doctors have come in the grip of virus in Bihar so far.

The labs in Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), Rajendra Memorial Institute of Medical Sciences (RMIMS) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were shut for fumigation amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in the state which reported close to 500 cases in the past 24 hours, alarming state authorities.

Panic has gripped health officials at PMCH, Bihar’s premier health institute, with news of 11 health officials including the heads of three key departments at the hospital — microbiology, virology and physiology - getting the deadly virus.

“A doctor, a medical student and other health staff in our microbiology department have tested COVID-19 positive and as per the ICMR protocol, we have to fumigate the laboratory. So testing of samples has been stopped for three days,” PMCH principal Dr. Vidyapati Chaudhary told the media on Friday.

Similarly, testing at the RMIMS was suspended after lab technician at the virology department tested positive. “We receive around 2,500 samples for testing everyday but are helpless in this situation,” RMIMS director Dr. Pradeep Das said.

Of all the hospitals, the PMCH remains the worst hit with more than 25 health professionals testing positive so far. This has caused panic among the health workers. “Of the total health professionals testing positives, 12 are doctors,” PMCH’s nodal officer Dr. Purna Nand Jha said.

Of the 12 doctors contracting the virus, six are from obstetrics and gynaecology departments, and one each from paediatrics, surgery, anaesthesiology and microbiology. One of the doctors is on ventilator support.

In Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) in Patna which has been developed as a dedicated COVID-19 hospital, two health officials tested positive. Another four doctors tested positive in Muzaffarpur district while 12 health staff, including a doctor and nurses, tested positive in the Purnia district.

The Indian medical Association (IMA) is hugely worried at the way the infection is spreading among the doctor community. “Around 40 doctors in Bihar have tested positive for COVID-19 so far which is very serious,” IMA vice-president Dr. Ajay Kumar said on Friday.

Former IMA president Dr Sahajanand Prasad Singh said the doctor community is in deep trouble as the virus is spreading very fast.

“Doctors are fast contacting the virus for routinely being in contact with the patients. We are falling victims despite taking maximum precaution,” Dr. Sahajanand said. “We are very unsafe as there is a wide spread of the virus now,” he said.

He has asked the state government to make special arrangements and provide a minimum of 100 beds especially for the doctors who have tested positive.

The increasing cases of COVID-19 have become a matter of serious concern in the state with the virus spreading fast. According to the latest report of the health department, the virus has claimed 84 lives so far while also infecting 10,911 people in the state.