Physicians working in hospitals which are not treating Covid-19 patients are now mostly affected, while substandard PPE and a lack of awareness are cited as prominent reasons for infections among doctors
While the government is grappling with mounting Covid-19 cases, a high rate of infection among physicians has put the country's healthcare facilities under further stress.
Initially, it was considered that doctors were getting infected because people were trying to get treatment by hiding their coronavirus-like symptoms, and because there was a severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Once the dearth of PPE among medical professionals was removed, doctors' lack of knowledge about donning the protective items was blamed.
Although these issues have been resolved, more and more doctors are still getting infected with the novel coronavirus every day.
Some 875 doctors have tested positive for Covid-19 so far, of them 22 fresh cases were reported yesterday.
Doctors working in hospitals which are not treating Covid-19 patients are now mostly affected, says Ehteshamul Haque Chowdhury Dulal, secretary general of the Bangladesh Medical Association.
Many of the infected doctors of such hospitals have complained about the quality of PPE being provided to them.
"Moreover, it is not scientifically proper to treat Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients in a hospital at the same time. Hospitals in Bangladesh always remain overcrowded, so it is possible for general patients and doctors to contract the virus from infected people," he argues.
Prof Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director of Communicable Disease Control (CDC) at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), says, "Infections among doctors could have been controlled, but the health department and doctors were not serious enough about this virus at the early stage. No one took adequate safety measures to keep from getting infected by the virus."
"Safety does not mean wearing PPE only... effective strategies need to be adopted to prevent infections to tackle a pandemic situation."
All hospitals dedicated for Covid-19 response must form dedicated teams for the prevention of infection, says Ahmed.
"The teams would have to set different guidelines for the safety of healthcare providers including doctors, nurses, cleaners and other staff, making a categorical list assessing risks.
"Then, they would have to carry out constant monitoring so that everyone complies with the guidelines, and arrange training for the healthcare providers and observe the outcome," he explained.
If anybody gets infected, the team would have to find the cause of the infection and take remedial action immediately so that further exposure to that particular issue could be prevented, added Ahmed.
Prof Dr Shahnila Ferdous, director of CDC, DGHS, says, "It is not clear why doctors are still getting infected as they are using PPE and taking other safety measures."
"They (doctors) might be not donning PPE properly as per the prescribed guideline," she assumes.
Replying to a query, she said, doctors were given training but they might not be aware enough.
We have heard that a doctor ate food by removing the facemask while on duty, she says, adding doctors have to be more responsible.
Asked if any dedicated team is working to prevent infections, she made no comment.