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It is estimated that over 300 nursing staff employed at hospitals in Kolkata have either resigned or left for home in Manipur. This exodus has left hospitals in Kolkata in a tough spot amid the COVID-19 crisis.
A group of nurses who returned to Manipur speak about the reasons of their departure as reports of them ‘quitting’ their jobs make the news. While clearing their side of the story, these nurses say that they did not resign but left owing to several other reasons.
They claim to have spoken to the HR and the DNS team and fulfilled all the formalities before coming. They add that they returned home with the promise of coming back, hence there was no question of quitting.
There are a number of reasons why the nurses decided to leave the hospitals in Kolkata.
1. No Tests Or Quarantine After Exposure To COVID-19 Patients
Nurses have been demanding quarantine time or tests after being exposed to coronavirus after treating COVID-19 patients. But the hospitals neither let them self-isolate nor got them tested.
Their main concern is going back to the hostels and putting their flatmates at risk.
“What happens is that we are exposed, so the people staying with us at the hostel will also be exposed to the virus. They are not even getting us tested. Whether we are positive or negative, how will we know?”Staffer
2. No Adequate Safety Measures
They have further complained safety protocols not being followed. Re-use of PPE kits and N-95 masks are a reason of concern as it makes them susceptible to infection.
“We have to use one N95 mask for five days. Using the same mask for five days means that the virus is already there. If we keep using the same one, we might also get infected.”Staffer
3. Racism By Neighbours And Landlords
From being verbally abused, harassed and being spat on, north-easterners have faced racism amid this crisis with ‘corona’ becoming a racial slur.
Similarly, these nurses have been teased by people in their locality on daily basis to the extent that some of the landlords refused to let them stay.
“The landlord is also denying us to stay because of the fear of coronavirus. How are we supposed to do our duty amid all this? People living nearby tease us when our bus arrives by calling it ‘corona bus’.”Nurse Staff
From safety protocols not being followed, no tests or quarantine, life risks and racism aplenty – these nurses say they have enough reasons to not stay in Kolkata and return home. They add that they are not even being provided proper meals.
As many as 60 nurses are still stranded in Kolkata’s Manipur Bhawan as the Manipur government halted transport after 5 more cases were detected amongst the ones who returned to the state recently.
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