In a bid to manage the fourth peak of the covid-19 pandemic, instructions were communicated to operating zones regarding rapid reaction teams’ cooperation with the HSE division of oil companies with a view to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. That was done by providing care and conducting rapid test. To that effect, antigen tests, whose result would be known in several minutes, have been under way particularly on oil platforms.
Dr. Payman Faridnia, head of occupational health at the Petroleum Industry Health Organization (PIHO), highlighted the need for preventive care, saying: “The main cause of concern over the past one year has been to apply health controls to manage the covid-10 pandemic in the areas under coverage, particularly zones where operations are under way.”
“Numerous preventive measures have been undertaken in collaboration with the HSE and HR divisions of companies. However, in recent weeks, we have received news and information indicating laxness in honoring health protocols. That is while management and staff have to be harbinger in implementing these instructions,” he said.
“The communicated health instructions are being implemented in collaboration with oil companies. Identifying those suspected of infection with covid-19 and preventing their mobility particularly in zones where operations are under way as well as regular monitoring of those who have developed symptoms and employees with close contacts at workplace, training program for the staff and some associated occupations are in line with the implementation of preventive instructions and screening,” he added.
Faridnia said: “To prevent and fight the disease there is no option but to comply with preventive measures. Honoring codes of conduct including reduction in unnecessary movements, appropriate ventilation at offices, emphasizing health protocols and self-declaration of employees are among them. Corporate managers are expected to lay emphasis on such points in order to slow down the growing trend of morbidity.”
“Unfortunately, the growing trend of morbidity in Khuzestan Province led to more hospitalization at Ahvaz, Mahshahr and Abadan hospitals [last calendar year]. Of course, very good measures were undertaken by our colleagues at these centers,” he said.
“By benefiting from the experience of the Ahvaz branch of PIHO for managing the 4th peak, instructions were given about cooperation between the rapid reaction teams and HSE sections of oil companies, and rapid test screening services on drilling sites. PCR tests have been carried out over the past month,” he added.
Faridnia touched on healthcare measures undertaken at PIHO branches, saying: “These measures are divided into several groups. Depending on the patient’s conditions, in case the patient declares his sickness or show mild symptoms after referring to healthcare centers, primary measures will be undertaken and he will be advised to stay at home. Then he will be monitored regularly by healthcare workers on the phone. In case more symptoms are developed, they would be hospitalized and administered antiviral drugs to weaken the viral infection. That has helped reduce cases of hospitalization of critically ill patients.”
“Fortunately, we have no problem with drug supply across PIHO hospitals and the plan for the sufficient supply of drugs to healthcare centers has already been instructed to manage the 4th peak,” he said.
“Conducting unnecessary surgery has been halted until further notice and beds from other wards are at the disposal of covid patients with all necessary medical equipment. Currently, the occupancy rate of hospital beds at the covid ward is nearly 80% and we don’t need to add beds now,” he added.
Fardinia said: “In order to facilitate the patients’ access to facilities, a clinic with infectious disease experts and internists is operating in two shifts in a bid to start the process of treatment quickly and reduce the burden of unnecessary hospital visits.”
He said that vaccination started at PIHO hospitals in March, adding that nearly 90% of the staff dealing with covid patients had received jabs.
Vaccination Set to Start
Reza Shahrami, advisor to the CEO of PIHO, said: “Ever since the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, PIHO alongside the Ministry of Health received covid patients and handled them.”
“We have never faced any pharmaceutical or equipment shortages and we were on par with industrialized nations in prevention, training and screening,” he said.
“The molecular diagnosis lab for covid was equipped quickly and this test was carried out very fast at the main centers,” he added.
Shahrami said it was not possible to supply vaccine for PIHO separately, adding: “Following the World Health Organization’s readiness to distribute vaccine, PIHO moved to provide infrastructure for preserving and distributing vaccines, which was equipped very quickly. Due to the problems of vaccine distribution and delivery to governments, vaccine supply independently for PIHO was not possible.”
He said that the Ministry of Petroleum was ready to cooperate with the Ministry of Health in vaccine supply, adding: “After PIHO’s consultations, the share allocated by the Ministry of Health has helped vaccinate all healthcare staff including doctors, nurses and logisticians in hospitals and clinics.”
“Ever since the government announced authorization for the private sector to buy vaccines, PIHO redoubled its efforts; however, many problems came up due to the growing caseload in India and European nations,” he said.
Shahrami said: “In line with its commitment to the Petroleum Ministry staff and their families, particularly retirees and high-risk patients, PIHO is in talks with the ministries of health in vaccine producing nations as well as Iranian vaccine companies to receive shots.”
“Vaccine ethics and distribution committees have also been established. In case any share is allocated, high-risk groups, retirees and other staff will receive jabs,” he said.