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Coronavirus: Intern doctors at the frontline

  • Published at 02:00 pm April 26th, 2020
File photo: A health worker in a protective gown checks a man for signs of the novel coronavirus infection Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Interns are at high risk of getting infected since patients are hiding their medical history

He was a fresh graduate from a medical college.

He thought the last few years’ dedication and hard work at his college have finally paid off, allowing him to provide first-hand medical care to patients.

However, within just a few weeks this intern doctor got infected with the coronavirus.

It is not as if it was totally unexpected. He knew he might contract the virus since people in his profession are highly exposed to it right now. But he decided to take the risk anyway while half the graduates from his batch decided not to work.

Intern doctors across the country are not directly assisting in any dedicated hospital for Covid-19 patients but 22 of them have still caught the virus.

Dr Imam Siddique Sahitya, an intern doctor at Bashundhara Ad-din Medical College and Hospital, told Dhaka Tribune that 22 intern doctors have contracted the virus even though they are not directly treating any Covid-19 patients.

Bangladesh Intern Doctors’ Association (BIDA) also corroborated the numbers as of April 23.

Sahitya told this correspondent that he was suffering from stomach ache a few days ago and most of the people in his social circle told each other that he had Covid-19.

“I had no symptoms of Covid-19. I was just sick and people assumed I was infected because I work at a hospital,” he said. 

Interns may not work directly with the Covid-19 patients but they are usually the first ones to attend the outdoor patients, stated Shahitya, adding that interns are at high risk of contracting the virus since patients are now hiding their medical history.

It is like being in a warzone fighting against a microscopic enemy, said another intern doctor in Sylhet.

Requesting anonymity, he told Dhaka Tribune: “This is a health crisis that brought the whole world into its knees.

“What is the point of studying medicine if I cannot use my skills during a health crisis,” he questioned.

While most of his batch mates opted to take a break from practicing medicine after graduation because of the pandemic, he decided to step forward.

“We are a highly exposed group because we have to take care of patients before a senior doctor sees them,” he remarked.

The intern doctors are already exposed and things are getting harder for them because of uncooperative patients.

“Our risk of catching the virus has increased manifold because the patients we provide medical care to, often hide their medical history,” he commented.

Stating that intern doctors are not fully geared with personal protective equipment (PPE) since they do not attend Covid-19 patients, he said it is impossible to know if a person is Covid-19 positive if they do not inform us.

He said they are getting surgical masks and gloves for attending patients but if a patient walks into the outdoor section with the viral infection, these gears might not be enough to protect them from getting infected by the virus.

“Providing necessary protective gears for us should be the priority if the hospital authorities want to protect their young medical professionals,” he added.

His motivation comes from the oath he took to save lives and he believes that all young medical professionals should be on the frontline for this very reason.