Doctors see no problem with the instructions to use N-95 masks but react negatively to joining work 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19
Covid-19 positive health workers, including doctors and nurses of different hospitals in the country, will be able to join work 10 days after they show coronavirus symptoms, the health directorate has said in a notice.
The notice also says asymptomatic patients will be able to join work 10 days after testing positive. Doctors have reacted negatively to this.
The Directorate General of Health Services issued the notice on May 28 with two instructions.
The notice signed by the director (hospital and clinic) of the health directorate said the instructions were given as per the recommendations of the National Technical Committee.
However, the National Technical Advisory Committee said they do not know anything about this.
If a caregiver is infected with Covid-19, he/she will be able to join work if he/she has no fever (without fever-reducing medication) for at least three days after showing symptoms and his/her respiratory symptoms have adequately improved, the notice said.
In addition, six N-95 masks can be used for two months by following specific rules.
Although doctors saw no problem with the instructions to use N-95 masks, they reacted negatively to joining work ten days after testing positive.
A doctor at Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital in the capital told The Business Standard, "We have received the notice of the health directorate. We will discuss this with the higher authorities."
The doctor, who did not want to be named, said, "When a patient tests negative, we tell him to stay in isolation for another 14 days. Considering that, it is not right to ask doctors to join work after ten days. Doctors in our hospitals who have been infected with the coronavirus so far have been asked to return to work two weeks after testing negative. Asymptomatic patients are the most dangerous. They are silent spreaders. So, we think this notice is controversial."
Professor Nazrul Islam, a virologist and member of the National Advisory Committee on Coronavirus, agreed with the doctor.
He told The Business Standard, "Covid-19 patients have to be in isolation for 14 days after testing negative. In that case, anyone who wants to join work must ensure that he is negative. You cannot join work just because you do not have symptoms. This is more important for doctors because coronavirus can spread from doctors to many others. The risk is higher for asymptomatic patients."
He said the health directorate did not hold any discussion with the Technical Advisory Committee before issuing the notice.
However, doctors said the decision on N-95 mask was scientifically correct. A doctor of the intensive care unit at Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital said N-95 masks were in a short supply all over the world now.
"The World Health Organisation has set guidelines and different countries are following those. Even if the mask is short in supply, treatment should be continued. So, alternatives are being considered. It is said that the virus can live up to 72 hours on any object. So, if different masks are used for example on day one, day two, day five, there will be no virus in those.
"There will be 20 days of quarantine and family time in two months. So, a mask will be used for a maximum of four days. This can be done when resources are limited," he said.
An official of the health directorate echoed this view. Seeking anonymity, he said four masks could be used for up to five cycles due to the shortage of N-95 masks.
"However, if the mask is damaged or contaminated, it cannot be reused. Doctors would not have misunderstood if the instructions in the health directorate notice were explained."
In this regard, the director (hospital and clinic) of the health directorate, Aminul Hasan, told The Business Standard he had implemented the recommendations of the National Technical Committee. "This is an internal matter of doctors. Journalists are complicating the matter."