Cases at Delhi cancer institute jump to 22, doctor among 3 more to test positive

Somya Lakhani

At the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital on Wednesday. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

Three more staffers at the Delhi State Cancer Institute (DSCI) in Dilshad Garden tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, taking the number of positive cases from the hospital to 22. DSCI does not have a COVID-19 ward, nor is it being utilised as a testing or quarantine facility.

The Delhi government hospital has reported the highest number of healthcare workers with positive test results in the capital so far, with many nursing officers alleging that they were not given personal protective equipment (PPE).

Of the three people who tested positive Wednesday, one is a doctor in the oncology department, one a nursing officer, and the third a safai karamchari, confirmed DSCI medical superintendent Dr B L Sherwal.

All three had been tested on Monday. After their result came out on Wednesday evening, they were sent to Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital for treatment, said a source at the hospital.

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This comes days after a resident doctor from the department of preventive oncology had tested positive, following which more cases came to light.

The 37-year-old nursing officer, who tested positive Wednesday, lives with her husband and their six-year-old son. “She developed high fever over two days ago and completely self-isolated herself at home. On Monday, she got tested, and today her result is positive. She was on duty till April 2 but was not given any PPE till March 31. After much persuasion, the nursing staff was given HIV drape kits but no eye-shields,” said a source close to the nursing officer.

The source claimed that the nursing officer has not even been provided an ambulance to take her to the hospital and that her husband dropped her off.

The 31-year-old doctor who tested positive Wednesday spoke to The Indian Express over the phone from the hospital: “I am asymptomatic, and reported to duty till March 31. Since then, I have been home and self-isolated myself from my family of 10 people. The result came around 5.30 pm. I was provided PPE by the hospital... I do not know how this happened. I hope my family members too get tested. I am feeling just fine right now.”

Meanwhile, there are at least 10 patients still at DSCI, while many have been moved to private hospitals.

Sherwal, said: “We are awaiting their COVID-19 results and will accordingly shift them to hospitals. We cannot abandon them right now. If any patients test positive, they will be sent to Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital. If they test negative, then they will be sent to other hospitals so their treatment continues.”

The OPD has been shut down and no new admissions are taking place at DSCI as of now.

On Monday, The Indian Express had reported that many nursing officers and orderlies had alleged lack of PPEs at the cancer institute.

At the time, Sherwal had said: “Ours is a cancer institute and healthcare workers are dealing with cancer patients. We are not a dedicated hospital for COVID-19, which is why there was no need to have PPE kits.”

Meanwhile, around 30 healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses and technicians, at the Cardio-Neuro Centre in AIIMS have been advised to undergo quarantine after a 72-year-old man who visited the facility with neurological problems tested positive for COVID-19, sources said on Wednesday.

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