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COVID crisis: As India faces shortage of medical staff, experts urge govt to conduct nursing exams on war footing

Updated : April 28, 2021 07:24:37 IST

India's COVID-19 death count has now crossed the two lakh mark, with the country recording 3,293 deaths in the last 24 hours, the highest ever since the onset of the pandemic -- of these Maharashtra reported 895 deaths, as the state updated the data and added almost 500 deaths for the last two weeks. Delhi witnessed 381 deaths, while UP and Chhattisgarh also recorded over 200 deaths each.

Even the number of fresh infections surged to an all-time high of 3.6 lakh -- India has now recorded over three lakh COVID cases for seven consecutive days. Maharashtra accounted for over 66,000 of the new infections, UP and Kerala are the second and the third worst hit with almost 33,000 cases each.

Number of inoculations dropped to 25.5 lakh on Tuesday, pushing the seven day vaccination average to a three week low of 25.3 lakh -- with this, the number of vaccine doses administered so far stands at over 14.7 crore.

Chairman and founder of Narayana Health Dr Devi Shetty has said that the healthcare system in India will run out of skilled personnel to treat COVID at the rate infections are rising.

In a blogpost, Devi Shetty said statistically India will be adding 75,000 ICU patients a day. India currently has 75,000 to 95,000 ICU beds which were full even before the pandemic hit a peak.

He said while adding ICUs is the need of the hour the greatest bottleneck will be shortage of nurses and doctors. Therefore about 2.2 lakh nursing students who are waiting to appear for graduation exams should be exempted and also given preference for future government jobs.

As the country faces shortage of medical staff--the chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat told Prime Minister Modi that all medical personnel from armed forces who have retired in the last two years have been recalled to work in COVID facilities within the proximity of their current residence. Medical officers currently on staff appointments at command headquarters, division headquarters and headquarters of the Indian navy and air force will be employed at hospitals. Nursing personnel were also being employed in large numbers to accompany the doctors.

Even as India faces a shortage of medical personnel, those working on the frontline are facing several challenges. Few employees of Apollo Hospital in Delhi were allegedly attacked by relatives of a COVID-19 patient who passed away -- none of the involved hospital staff that included doctors have been seriously injured. The hospital said in a statement that the patient was advised to move to another facility given the unavailability of beds. The Indian Medical Association has also condemned the attack.

To discuss the medical staff shortage crisis, Shereen Bhan spoke to Suneeta Reddy, MD of Apollo Hospitals; K Sujatha Rao, Former Secretary of Health & Family Welfare; (Retd) General VP Malik, Former Chief of Army Staff and Dr JA Jayalal, National President of IMA.

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