The health directorate is planning to accommodate coronavirus case treating medical workers at hospital dorms or hotels to avoid endangering their families when they go home
The government is considering whether the physicians and nurses who are treating novel coronavirus patients could be accommodated inside hospital compounds or hotels so that they do not contaminate their homes.
If the plan comes together, the frontline medical personnel will stay at designated homes after their shifts. They will have to complete a 14-day self-isolation period before going home once the situation becomes normal.
Though any formal decision is yet to be announced, the government is working on it, sources at the Directorate General of Health Services and doctors at the Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital have said.
"Currently, the medical workers at dedicated hospitals for coronavirus patients are returning to their families after their shifts.
"There is no clear guideline of the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding the accommodation of the frontline medical personnel. We are mulling over some concepts of China and Vietnam and the decision will be taken as accordingly," said a health directorate official wishing anonymity.
According to health experts and virologists, the medical workers at coronavirus-dedicated medical facilities should stay at a separate place so that they do not contaminate their homes.
They say the government should have taken initiative to isolate the medical staff much earlier and, as it is moving in that direction at last, care should be taken about strict implementation.
"The medical workers will perform their shifts from designated accommodations. They will meet their families after the mandatory quarantine period. This should be the rule," Dr M Mushtuq Husain, member of the National Coordination Committee on coronavirus, told The Business Standard.
The health directorate should take prompt decision, he added.
However, a physician at the Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital said that the health directorate decided to isolate only doctors of the medical facility.
"We came to know about a decision that we will be accommodate at hospital dorms or hotels," a doctor of the hospital told The Business Standard on Monday morning.
The hospital in Dhaka's Uttara is the first dedicated medical facility for coronavirus cases. Suspected cases were kept under isolation at the hospital even before March 8 when Bangladesh reported the maiden Covid-19 cases in the country.
However, the hospital currently does not have any residential facilities for the health workers. Doctors and nurses of the medical facility go straight to their families as soon as their shifts end, posing a serious risk of contamination to the families and others who will come in their contact.
"If 100 people work at a hospital and each of them transmits the virus to one person, then the infections will keep multiplying," said Prof Muzaherul Huq, former adviser to the World Health Organisation's Southeast Asia region.
Prof Huq said, "Everyone working at coronavirus treatment facilities must stay there round the clock. If they want to return to their families, they will have to keep themselves in a 14-day self-isolation first."
The former WHO official also recommended setting up separate units at hospitals for general patients so that they do not get infected by the highly contagious Covid-19 virus.