Amid the already mounting tension and panic about the fast-spreading novel coronavirus in the state and the detection of the region’s first positive case, doctors and nursing staff at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) got the shock of their lives when they found that the state government had sent raincoats to be worn by medical staff while treating patients.

It is learnt that north Bengal’s premier health institution has been reeling under an acute shortage of the personal protective equipment (PPE), which is crucial in treating suspected or novel coronavirus cases. Apart from the PPE, junior doctors there have also demanded proper supply of masks and gloves.

“Some doctors at the NBMCH expressed strong grievances today as the state government sent the raincoats in lack of PPEs due to their increasing demand,” NBMCH sources said. The PPE includes N-95 masks, gloves, gown, goggles or face-shield and footwear.

“We have been demanding proper protective kits for doctors who directly deal with the patients who have symptoms of coronavirus. One patient admitted in the Respiratory Intensive Care Unit has already tested positive. Under such circumstances, the state government has sent us raincoats. It is in utter violation of the prescribed standards for PPE by the World Health Organisation.

The PPEs are essential for medical staff who could be delivering frontline treatment in the fight against the deadly virus,” a doctor said. When asked, NBMCH principal Prof Prabir Kumar Deb, however, said that efforts were being made to bring in the PPEs.