While caring for COVID-19 patients, front-line health care workers put themselves at the risk of catching this deadly virus. Hundreds of them have lost their lives to the novel coronavirus globally. In India too, more than 50 doctors and healthcare workers have caught the COVID-19 infection, some estimates suggest. Several states have reported the death of doctors too. Recently, a nurse and a security guard from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, have also been found to be COVID-19 positive. According to the statement of hospital sources to IANS, “A total of seven staff members of AIIMS have been tested positive so far.” According to the reports of this news agency, two kids of the nurse have also tested positive for the virus. Currently, the number of AIIMS staff and their dependants affected by COVID-19 infection, is 20. Also Read – COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms can rapidly produce virus-attacking T cells: Researchers
With the entire world is reeling under the onslaught of COVID-19 infection, our health heroes are helping us fight out the pandemic, risking their own lives and those of their near ones. “More than their own lives, they are afraid of passing on the germs to their kids and close ones,” said clinical psychologist Prachi S Vaish in a recent interview to TheHealthSite. The Journal of the American Medical Association also points out that the COVID-19 pandemic is straining healthcare workers all across the globe. According to co-authors of a study published in this journal, “The pressure on the global healthcare workforce continues to intensify. This pressure takes two forms. The first is the potentially overwhelming burden of illnesses that stresses health system capacity and the second is the adverse effects on healthcare workers, including the risk of infection.” It goes without saying that we need to protect front-line health workers and their families from this deadly infection while fighting against safeguarding us against it. These measures will help them stay safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Also Read – Amit Shah’s 10 steps to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Delhi
Wearing protective gear is a must
Persona protection equipment (PPE) is essential to for front-line heath care workers while treating COVID-19 patients. According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they should wear disposable gloves to protect their hands and non-sterile long-sleeve gowns to prevent the contamination of clothes. Other crucial PPE include N95 respirators or a powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) along with goggles and face shields. In case of the unavailability of N 95 and PAPR, medical masks could be the saviour. Also Read – Explained: Arvind Kejriwal’s 5-point strategy to help Delhiites battle COVID-19
Maintain the emergency room (ER) protocol
The emergency ward in hospitals are flooded with COVID-19 patients. The first protective measure for healthcare workers in an ER is providing a mask to the patient on arrival. Other supportive measures include promoting cough etiquettes, maintaining hand hygiene and supplying tissues.
Stay safe during swab tests
Wearing a mask, face shields and goggles, and a long-sleeve gown while performing swab test on a COVID-19 patient is a must for health care professionals. Also, make sure the procedure is carried out in a separate isolation room. Request the patients to cover their mouth with a mask or tissue during the test.
Take precautions while cleaning soiled bed linens
According to the WHO recommendations, health care workers caring for COVIS-19 patients must follow these guidelines while cleaning their soiled beds, towels and clothes:
- Wear appropriate PPE including heavy gloves, mask, eye protection gear,long-sleeved gown, apron (if gown is not fluid resistant), boots or closed shoes before touching any soiled linen.
- Use a flat, firm object to scrape off faeces or vomit on a linen and flush it off in the commode before placing it in a designated container.
- Never carry the soiled linen against your body. Dump them in a labelled, leak-proof container.
- Wash soiled linen in a machine with warm water (60°C-90°C). Using laundry detergent is highly recommended. In the absence of a washing machine, soak the linen in a hot water and detergent in big drum and stir it with a stick. Avoid splashing. Using .05 per cent chlorine for approximately 30 minutes will also work if there’s no hot water. Finally, rinse with clean water and let it dry in the sunlight.
Disinfecting hospital equipment and contaminated surfaces
The COVID-19 virus has been shown to last long on several surfaces. So, it is extremely essential or health care workers to disinfect reusable equipment like thermometers and frequently touched surfaces like switches, countertops, chair arms, escalator railings, elevator buttons, doorknobs, and handles. They should also clean their laptops and mobile phones. According to the WHO recommendations, 70 per cent ethyl alcohol should be used to disinfect reusable dedicated equipment. For disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, the WHO suggests using ion is using sodium hypochlorite at 0.5%.
Maintain hand hygiene and monitor yourself frequently
Since health care workers are at high risk of contracting COVID-19, they should watch their symptoms closely and stop taking care of patients if they experience- manifestations. Also, hand washing is even more important for them.
Protect your family
As already mentioned, health care workers are deeply concerned about passing on the COVID-19 to their family members. They can separate their living spaces at home, keep their clothes and wash them separately too. These should be followed alongside the standard measures of frequent handwashing, wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing.
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