A healthcare worker collects a nasal swab sample of a prisoner for the COVID-19 test who was to be produced at Civil Court, in wake of the recent surge in Omicron-driven Coronavirus cases, in Patna. Image Credit: ANI

Patna: Increasing COVID-19 infections among doctors and health workers have slowly begun to affect the health services in Bihar with several hospitals restricting the number of new patients for medical consultation and curtailing elective surgeries.

Around 600 doctors and 3,000 health workers have got infected with COVID-19 in the third wave, according to a rough estimate by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Reports said All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), two leading health facilities located in Patna, have restricted the number of patients for medical consultation to 50 a day per department and also put on hold elective surgeries. The other prominent health facility, Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) has drastically reduced the ICU beds for the medicine department.

“We have reduced the ICU beds from 20 to 10 since 75 per cent of our resident doctors have tested positive,” PMCH medical superintendent Dr IS Thakur told the media on Wednesday. The hospital is even accepting the services of MBBS interns to manage the ICU and the emergency with several top doctors under treatment. “We have no option but to utilize the services of the interns to look after the ICU, emergency and the Covid emergency services in the current situation,” Dr Thakur added.

All departments hit

Similarly, the functioning of the operation theatres has been affected at AIIMS where over 200 doctors are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 infections. A hospital official Dr Umesh Bhadani said currently just six operation theatres are functioning against existing 33 as around 18 doctors from the anesthesiology department are in grip of infections. The functioning of the radiology department too has been affected with around 50 per cent of staff infected.

“Despite the 600 plus healthcare workers testing positive at our institute, we didn’t shut the emergency and OPD (Outdoor Patients Department) services this time as was done during the second wave of the pandemic,” in-charge superintendent for AIIMS Dr Saurabh Varshney told the media.

The situation is similar at IGIMS where more than 100 doctors and paramedical staff have been affected, thus partially hampering health services. Hospital superintendent Dr Manish Mandal said the elective surgeries have been put on hold in view of the health officials getting infected. “Elective surgery” is a term used for non-emergency surgery which is medically necessary but can be delayed for some time.

A good thing for the state, however, is that the infection graph has shown a downward trend in the past three days. The state which had been reporting around 6,500 cases per day till January 15 now finds daily cases ranging between 4,000-4,500. In the case of Patna, the average daily cases have come down to around 1,000 from earlier 3,500.

“The current trend is pleasing as we are getting the support of the people in containing infections but it will be premature to come to any conclusion. We will be able to say anything concrete in the next few days after a proper study,” Bihar health secretary Pratyay Amrit told the media.