New Delhi: In a bid to help the healthcare workers and others working at quarantine centres, hospitals and laboratories in keeping themselves from getting infected by coronavirus, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has issued an advisory on the rational use of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPEs are protective gears designed to safeguard the health of workers by minimizing the exposure to a biological agent. These include goggles, face-shield, mask, gloves, coverall/gowns, headcover and shoe cover.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), healthcare workers are among the first to respond when an infectious pathogen threatens a community and often they among the first to be affected by it. The guidelines on the rational use of PPE, as per the MoHFW, have been issued in response to the current coronavirus pandemic that the health workers are exposed to.
The guidelines issued by the ministry mention the functions of PPE and how it prevents one from contracting the infection in different settings. Explaining the mode of transmission of the pathogen, the guidelines say,
The people most at risk of COVID-19 infection are those who are in close contact with a suspect/confirmed COVID-19 patient or who care for such patients. Therefore, they need a full complement of the PPE.
The guidelines further say that people working at Health Desk or immigration counters or temperature recording stations are at ‘Low Risk’ but still they must wear a triple-layered medical mask and keep a minimum distance of one metre from others.
Sanitary staff and those working in isolation facilities have been categorised at ‘moderate risk’ of getting infected as they do cleaning frequently, touch surfaces or floor and also clean linen. Therefore they need to wear gloves and N-95 mask, which is a respiratory protective device with high filtration efficiency to airborne particles.
Doctors and nurses conducting the interview and clinical examination of the individual are also considered of being at ‘moderate risk’.
People working in the laboratories, collecting or transporting samples, healthcare staff at ICU (Intensive Care Unit) have been considered at ‘high risk’. They are required to wear a complete package of PPE including coveralls.
According to the health ministry persons being quarantined at home was at ‘low risk’, a designated family member also has been considered at low risk and needed gloves who may commonly touch surfaces or handling or soiled linen While cleaning.
Dr. Surya Kant, Professor and Head of Department of Respiratory Medicine, King George’s Medical University (KGMU) Lucknow appreciated the centre’s considerations towards healthcare workers and said to NDTV,
The health system depends heavily on just a few health workers and it is nice to the government coming out with advisories on crucial equipments required to save this precious human resource.
Coronavirus Outbreak In India
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as of today, March 26 at 10 AM, 649 people in India have been confirmed to have the coronavirus including 43 recoveries and 13 fatalities. Many steps have been taken by the government at the state as well as the central level to tackle the pandemic. The central government has enforced a complete nationwide lockdown so that people refrain from coming in contact with persons/ surfaces infected coronavirus.