The state health department on Tuesday issued two orders making 14-day rotational duty mandatory for those working in COVID-19 hospitals and forming 11 teams headed by senior bureaucrats and assigned with specific tasks for containing the spread of the virus.
For dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, the policy outlines that there will be four teams comprising physicians, anaesthetists, medical officers, paramedical and service staff with each team working seven days in ICU, seven days in isolation wards and then quarantined for the next two weeks. The quarantined team shall be tested on the seventh day and if negative, “they can be deployed directly to dedicated COVID-19 hospitals’ isolation wards,” the policy states.
The order notes that the state has seen a constant rise in coronavirus cases because of increased testing.
It also states that operations, including purchase and distribution of equipment, training, surveillance, contact-tracing, coordination with the central government are being carried out properly, “yet the prevalence of the disease has increased in the state”.
“Taking this into consideration… and to monitor every patient better, by order of the state general administration, senior IAS officials have been deputed in the health and family welfare department. …It is deemed fit to have other officers work along with these officials, so that the disease can be rapidly fought against,” states the order.
Of the 11 teams, health commissioner Jai Prakash Shivahare shall be heading four teams the responsibilities of which include managing all dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, coordinating with the Central government, telemedicine helpline, and surveillance, contact-tracing and containment activities.
Principal Health Secretary Jayanti Ravi will be in charge of drawing up standard operating procedures and guidelines in tandem with the Centre and WHO guidelines. Hareet Shukla, who heads the department of science and technology in the state, shall look after procurement of logistics, positive cases and laboratory reporting and CM and COVID dashboard. The order has outlined three type of facilities – COVID Care Centre (CCC), Dedicated COVID Health Centre (DCHC) and Dedicated COVID Hospital (DCH).
While the policy order had not accounted for the central health ministry guidelines permitting the option of home isolation for “very mild/pre- symptomatic patients having the requisite facility at his/her residence for self-isolation”, Ravi added that the central ministry guideline has been communicated to the department as of Tuesday.
“We communicated as soon as we received the guidelines from the Centre on Monday… A PHC doctor will check if where the patient will be home-isolating, satisfies the condition… we believe that with home isolation, people will recover quickly,” said Ravi.
Subsequently, a communication was also issued on April 28 by additional director in the health department Prakash Vaghela, putting home isolation of those mildly symptomatic, subject to conditions, operational.
Ravi also notified of the health department’s decision to push private medical practitioners to open up their clinics. “We are motivating doctors to open their OPDs and clinics while factoring in their requirements including PPEs, police protection or any other requirements to facilitate the functioning of our doctors. Rajkot has started 605 clinics and OPDs. Ahmedabad has reopened 400. State-wide 2,186 hospitals and clinics have started their operations but we appeal and order strictly that hospitals, clinics and OPDs be reopened and we expect our doctors to enthusiastically participate in this,” added Ravi.
The departmental crisis management committee has also stated in the advisory-cum-policy document that every district and corporation of Gujarat should have a ‘task force’ which will regularly review cases and availability of human resources.
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