Egyptian Medical Syndicate accuses hospital head of putting staff at risk of coronavirus infection

Sama Osama , Sunday 3 May 2020

Egypt's Medical Syndicate (Al-Ahram)

The Egyptian Medical Syndicate (EMS) filed a report with the country’s public prosecutor on Sunday against the head of a quarantine hospital in Alexandria for allegedly compromising the safety of doctors by violating infection control codes, a union and a judicial source said.

The syndicate said in a statement on Sunday that the head of the Agami Hospital had neglected for two days a doctor’s request to get tested for the coronavirus after he had come in contact with positive coronavirus cases. Eventually, the doctor tested positive for the virus.

Instead of putting the doctor in isolation to receive treatment, the hospital director insisted that the test be administered a second time. This time it came back negative and he asked the doctor to return to work, the syndicate said.

By doing so, it explained, the hospital head had violated medical protocols, given that 35 percent of people infected with the virus retest negative. The doctor insisted he undergo a third test, which came back positive.

“If the doctor had yielded to the director’s request and continued to work after the second test, he could have transmitted the virus to all of those who were in contact with him, whether patients or medical staff,” the EMS said in the statement.

The hospital head had also violated infection control policies by allowing newly assigned doctors to stay at the same residence with doctors who had come in direct contact with coronavirus patients, and who later tested positive for the virus.

Separately, the syndicate said it had sent an official request to Health Minister Hala Zayed demanding the strict implementation of preventive measures to protect medical staff at isolation hospitals from getting infected with the virus.

These include exempting some groups from working at isolation and quarantine hospitals, including those who are above 50 years of age, pregnant women, and mothers whose kids are less than 12.

It also called for applying infection control standards while using air conditioners so that air does not move from contaminated areas to clean ones, and following social distancing guidelines by accommodating a small number of medical staff in each room.

It also demanded that medical staff who finish their work at isolation hospitals undergo two polymerase chain reaction laboratory tests – two days apart – and only be allowed to leave if results come back negative.

It added that in case of a shortage in test devices, one test can suffice provided that the staff member is either put in quarantine for 14 days or asked to self-isolate.

Officials from the syndicate said last week that at least 90 doctors had contracted the virus so far, and five have died since the beginning of the outbreak.

As of Saturday, Egypt had 6,193 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the death toll standing at 415.

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