Bengal Bungles: Provides Covid-19- Treating Doctors Plastic Raincoat Shields Instead Of PPEs  

Bengal Bungles: Provides Covid-19- Treating Doctors Plastic Raincoat Shields Instead Of PPEs  West Bengal (Swarajya Graphic)
Snapshot
  • Many healthcare professionals are already wearing these raincoats at hospitals in the absence of PPEs. Doctors say raincoats are hardly a substitute for PPEs.

Faced with a severe shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including hazmat (hazardous materials) suits, the Bengal government has started supplying transparent plastic raincoats to doctors and paramedical staff who are in the frontline of the combat against the coronavirus.

While experts say that the plastic raincoats would do for now, doctors at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) at Kolkata’s Beliaghata and the Kolkata Medical College Hospital (KMCH), which has been designated as an exclusive facility to treat Covid-19 positive patients, are angry.

Many healthcare professionals are already wearing these raincoats at these two hospitals in the absence of PPEs. Doctors say that raincoats are hardly a substitute for PPEs.

They point out that components for making PPEs are easily available, and private garment manufacturers can easily make them if the state government issues necessary instructions and clearances.

Experts say that PPEs are also made of plastic, but the material is much thicker than raincoats.

Several countries, including Indonesia, are innovating and supplying modified raincoats to healthcare workers due to the severe shortage of PPEs.

Doctors say that plastic raincoats do not cover their neck and shoulders and open in the front whereas PPEs offer full protection.

The way out for now, say experts, is to wear the raincoats in a manner that the buttons are at the back. But that makes movement difficult and is cumbersome, says doctors.

The experts say that the state government should, instead of depending on manufacturers of PPEs who are, anyway, swamped with orders, ask local garment manufacturers to make improvised PPEs.

“It is not very difficult to improvise. Plastic, which is thicker than the one used for making raincoats, has to be used and the protective suits have to be tailored to offer protection to the neck and shoulders,” said a microbiologist.

Also, the raincoats that the healthcare workers have been supplied with now have to be discarded every four to five hours, along with gloves and masks. But not enough plastic raincoats have been supplied to adhere to this protocol.

As a result, doctors and paramedics at the IDH and KMCH have been wearing the raincoats for two consecutive days or at least one whole day.

Microbiologists suggest that a surgical gown should be worn under a raincoat for added protection, but the gowns should be disinfected with sodium hypochlorite or bleaching powder solution before being sent to the laundry for washing.

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