Quarantine period of health workers slashed to one week in many areas in central Kerala

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TRISSUR: The rise in number of health workers being tested to COVID-19 resulting in to get isolated for treatment and their close contacts undergoing quarantine is set to affect the health and hospital service delivery in the state especially in central Kerala.

After two hospitals were closed down in Thrissur upon health workers being tested positive for virus, the health authorities were forced to open the hospital in just one week by calling them back after they tested negative to the virus before their 14-day quarantine.

Doctors who were primary contacts of the Covid positive tested patient were subjected for Covid test on seventh and eighth day of their quarantine and when they tested negative, they were told to report duty from next day.

On asked, a senior health department officer said a hospital cannot be closed down for a long period. In such cases, the health department is forced to hold Covid test, as per ICMR testing protocol, and direct them to start working if they test negative.

Even many foreign countries are now following the same modus operandi. Another officer in the state expert committee said the Covid test can be made even on the third or fourth day of their quarantine subject to their exposure and if tests negative, there is no other way to ask them to start reporting to duty.
Otherwise, the hospital service delivery would be affected. In many of such cases, the higher officials pass the message to report duty through unofficial mediums.

After rise in health workers being tested positive for the virus, the union health ministry last week issued directive suggesting the quarantine period for healthcare workers with high-risk exposure to confirmed Covid-19 cases be reduced from 14 days to one week initially.

According to old advisory issued last month -health care workers exposed to the Covid-19 patients were to be quarantined for 14 days, tested as per ICMR testing protocol, actively monitored for development of symptoms, and managed as per laid down protocol.

However, the new advisory suggest that for doctors, nursing officers and other health workers with high risk exposure, the quarantine period shall be initially for one week only. After a week, they shall be tested as per ICMR testing protocol, actively monitored for development of symptoms and managed as
per laid down protocol.

If they test negative and remain asymptomatic, complete 14 day quarantine and return to work. Those who also test negative, will be managed as in non-COVID area as per their clinical diagnosis. Their resuming work will be based on the clinical diagnosis and the medical certification by the treating doctor.

But in many areas here, the health workers who tested negative and reported to duty after one week are self-monitoring their health parameters. There is no restriction for low risk contacts to work except asked them to observe their health and symptoms. The highest number of health workers being infected with the
virus is in Thrissur with 17 cases till June 25.

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