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Covid-19 strikes down church hospital in Bangladesh

St. John Vianney Hospital on lockdown after 22 medical staff test positive for the virus

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Covid-19 strikes down church hospital in Bangladesh

Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario sprinkles holy water during the opening of church-run St. John Vianney Hospital in Dhaka on Nov. 11, 2019. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)

A Catholic-run hospital in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka has been put on lockdown and all staff forced into self-quarantine after 22 medical staff including doctors tested positive for Covid-19.

St. John Vianney Hospital in the Tejgaon area of central Dhaka went into lockdown on April 29, days after the positive tests for the deadly disease.

The hospital is located in one of the busiest parts of the city and close to Holy Rosary Catholic Church, which has about 15,000 faithful, the largest number of local and migrant Catholics.

Some local Catholics told UCA News on condition of anonymity that suspicions grew when they found the hospital gates closed recently.

Father Kamal Corraya, executive director of the hospital, confirmed its closure but didn’t give details of staff infections.

“As we know, patients carrying coronavirus often don’t show symptoms. We treated some patients who tested positive for the disease, so we have decided to close down the hospital temporarily,” Father Corraya told UCA News.

“It is a contagious disease and we just have one building, which makes it difficult to continue operating as there are risks. We have put all of about 60 staff in self-quarantine.”

Dr. Edward Pallab Rozario, medical consultant of the hospital, told UCA News that 22 medical staff including doctors had tested positive for Covid-19.

“The hospital offered treatment to some patients who later turned out to be coronavirus positive. Those patients came for treatment for dengue fever. Later, we found they had tested positive,” Dr. Rozario told UCA News.

A Christian patient from Gazipur district visited the hospital after failing to get treatment at other hospitals and clinics. He was suffering from fever and throat pain and unable to eat anything. After primary treatment, doctors suspected that he might be infected by coronavirus and he was told the hospital would treat him only if he tested negative. Unfortunately, he tested positive, said Dr. Rozario, manager (health) at Catholic charity Caritas Bangladesh.

“All doctors and medical staff were advised to have tests and 22 came out positive for Covid-19, but none of them had signs and symptoms of the disease. We had a discussion with the hospital chairman, Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, and put the hospital under lockdown from April 29. Since Covid-19 requires a second test, the hospital may open after more testing,” he added.

Most of the staff who tested positive are in home quarantine but those unable to use solitary rooms at their homes have been isolated in the hospital.

St. John Vianney Hospital only started operating last November. It is an initiative of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh and is funded by Dhaka Archdiocese.

Bangladesh recorded 665 confirmed Covid-19 cases on May 3, the highest number since its first three cases on March 8. The country had recorded 9,455 confirmed cases and 177 deaths as of May 3.

About 12 percent of confirmed cases are doctors and medical staff, according to doctors’ and medical councils. Two prominent doctors have died of Covid-19.

The nation has been on a general shutdown since March 25 and it has been extended to May 16.

However, authorities allowed the reopening of garment factories from April 26, a decision that drew criticism at home and abroad.

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