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Andhra Pradesh: More restrictions in place to combat Covid-19 spread

Vijayawada: In the wake of spurt in Covid-19 cases, the State government has imposed stringent restrictions to curb the spread of virus. Speaking to mediapersons on Monday, Principal Secretary (Health) Anil Kumar Singhal said, “We have decided to close sports complexes, gyms and spas till further orders. The existing alternate seating in public transport vehicles, including RTC buses and cinema halls, will continue and they will be allowed to operate with only 50% capacity.”

All the managements of government and private offices have been asked to ensure 5 feet distance between two seats of employees. Attendance at weddings and other social functions is limited to just 50 and that too with Covid Appropriate Behaviour. District Collectors have been directed to implement the restrictions strictly, he said.

According to Singhal, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy took serious note of reports that some private hospitals are fleecing patients by charging exorbitant rates. At a review meet on Covid, the Chief Minister directed officials to implement a three-tier structure for effective Covid management in the State.

“At the district-level, the collectors divide all private hospitals permitted to treat Covid-19 cases into clusters and appoint a district-level officer as in-charge for each cluster.

They will inspect these hospitals frequently, receive complaints from patients, look into their grievances and take appropriate action against the managements. Each cluster will have 5-8 private hospitals. Complaints pertaining to unauthorised treatment of Covid cases in nearby hospitals will also be probed, he said.

No shortage of Remdesivir in govt hospitals: Official

Further, there shall be a district-level flying squad constituted by the collector with representatives from DG, Drugs Control Administration, Vigilance and Enforcement and Medical and Health Departments. It will inspect the hospitals frequently and ensure that they adhere to all the guidelines strictly. It will also monitor the functioning of cluster in-charge officers, Singhal said.

At the State-level, a high-level task force headed by Special Chief Secretary (Higher Education) Satish Chandra, with State Command and Control Centre Chairman KS Jawahar Reddy, Vigilance and Enforcement Director General KV Rajendranath Reddy, Principal Secretary (Health) Singhal, Health Commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar, Drugs Control Administration Director General Ravi Shankar, is tasked to monitor the functioning of the three-tier structure.

Joint Collectors (Development) have been made full-time Covid officers till further orders. They will focus on ensuring proper functioning of government hospitals and Aarogyasri empanelled private hospitals by looking into all aspects, besides coordinating with the control room and 104 call centre for effective Covid management.

On Remdesivir stocks, Singhal maintained that there is no shortage of the drug in the State. Private Covid hospitals, which do not have supplies of Remdesivir can place orders with the government, which will provide stock. All the transactions and stock position will be put in public domain. As on date, 11,453 Remdesivir vials are with private hospitals, while the total stock in the State is 32,810, he said.

With regard to oxygen supply, he said they have a current requirement of more than the allocated 340 MT and they are making every effort to achieve a breakeven.

“There are reports of wastage of oxygen in some hospitals, particularly during night. Further, it has been observed that oxygen is being supplied even to those who do not need it. Given the limited supply, limited production and limited transportation, it is advised that not a drop of liquid oxygen be wasted,” he said.

To ensure accountability for oxygen being supplied and there is no black marketing and use for non-medical purposes, the government has decided to audit oxygen supply henceforth. As against 260 MT of oxygen consumption during the peak of the first Covid wave, which lasted 2-3 days, the current average consumption is 320-330 MT, he said.

On availability of beds in hospitals, he said nodal officers have been directed to update real time data on Covid dashboard. He admitted that there is pressure on government hospitals in Vijayawada and Guntur and they are making efforts to operationalise more Covid care centres and sync them with the 104 call centre to decrease the pressure. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister (Health) Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas (Nani) said every effort is being made to regulate oxygen supply in the State and overcome its shortage.

Speaking to the media in Guntur after a review meeting on Covid, he lashed out at TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu for politicising disruption in oxygen supply in Maharaja Hospital in Vizianagaram due to some technical glitch without getting facts straight. “If there is shortage of oxygen, here or there, we are making every effort to address it.”