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Bengal’s pvt hospitals ask state govt to shorten quarantine period to a week

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Private hospitals in West Bengal have urged the state government to consider shortening the quarantine period by bringing it down to 5-7 days from the current 14 days for hospital staff, particularly doctors and nurses. This would be necessary to ensure availability of adequate manpower in hospitals to manage an anticipated surge in cases.

According to Dr Alok Roy, Chair, FICCI Health Services Committee and Chairman, Medica Group of Hospitals, hospitals are adequately prepared on the infrastructure front, however, manpower will be a real challenge given the sharp spike in number of cases.

“The Omicron variant is like a dust storm and in the next three weeks it is likely to spread rapidly. But since the infection is very mild, severity may not be there. However, there may be cases with co-morbidities that may have to be watched. So we will have a lot more patients coming to hospitals but manpower (doctors and nurses) may not be available,” Roy told BusinessLine.

It is to be noted that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recently recommended shortening the isolation and quarantine period for general public. It suggested that people with Covid-19 should isolate for five days, and if they were asymptomatic or their symptoms were resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by five days of wearing a mask when around others to minimise the risk of infecting people they encounter.

“Given what we currently know about Covid-19 and Omicron, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation for the public. The change is motivated by science demonstrating that SARS-CoV-2 transmission mostly occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to the onset of symptoms, and the 2-3 days after,” CDC said in an official statement.

According to a senior official at AMRI Hospitals, the CDC recommendation was highlighted at a meeting with health department officials on Monday and hospitals urged a favourable consideration so as to manage the issue of manpower.

“Existing guidelines require 14-days isolation or quarantine for those infected. But in most cases we are seeing people testing negative within five days. So a long isolation period does not make sense as this will lead to manpower crunch,” the official said.

West Bengal reported 6,153 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday (January 2) with a positivity rate of 15.93 per cent. This is a sharp spike as compared to only around 752 cases as on December 28, 2021.

The total cases in the State as on January 2 stood at 16, 49,150. Kolkata accounted for nearly 3,194 out of the 6,153 new cases. The state government had, on Sunday, announced additional restrictions to curb the increase in cases of Covid-19 across the State effective Monday.

According to the order, all academic activities in school, colleges and universities are to remain stalled. Only administrative activities are to be permitted with 50 per cent employees at a time. The state government, which had recently restricted direct flights from United Kingdom, has further said that it would allow flights from Mumbai and Delhi to land in Kolkata only twice a week on Mondays and Fridays.



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