Health workers involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients will be given hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets as a preventive medication, the Maharashtra government has said and issued guidelines on the use of the drug. State health secretary Pradeep Vyas in a recent circular said the medicine will be given to doctors, nurses and medical staff involved in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and suspects, as well as contacts of those testing positive for the disease.
Members of the survey squads moving in the coronavirus containment zones and medical workers at hospitals in areas whereCOVID-19 cases are found will also be given the medicine.
The medical workers will have to take the medicine for seven weeks while contacts of COVID-19 patients will have to take it for three weeks, the circular said, adding that the drug should be given to medical workers with their consent.
The medicine should not be given to people below the age of 15, it said. Those having heart ailments, high blood pressure and diabetes should be given the medicine after expert medical advise, it added.
The circular also said that hydroxychloroquine should not be given to those having retinopathy (an eye ailment) or hypersensitivity.
Those with blood-related ailments should be given the drug after medical checkup, it said, adding that care should be taken for any side-effects.
As per the protocol, there will be no change in the precautions and care to be taken while in institutional or home quarantine.
Medical workers will continue to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), N-95 masks and triple layer masks while being on the medication, the circular added.