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Govt hospitals in Gujarat create special wards for Omicron cases, reserves 766 beds in cities

So far only one 72-year-old NRI who returned from Zimbabwe has been detected with the variant in the state in Gujarat in Jamnagar, where the highest number of 400 beds have been reserved.

Written by Sohini Ghosh , Ritu Sharma , Aditi Raja , Gopal Kateshiya, Kamaal Saiyed | Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, Vadodara |
Updated: December 7, 2021 2:40:25 am

Government hospitals in Gujarat have created special wards for patients diagnosed with the Omicron variant, reserving nearly 766 beds in major cities. So far only one 72-year-old NRI who returned from Zimbabwe has been detected with the variant in the state in Gujarat in Jamnagar, where the highest number of 400 beds have been reserved.

Additional chief secretary (health) Manoj Aggarwal told The Indian Express, “We don’t know a lot about Omicron. We are waiting for guidelines from the WHO, ICMR and the central government… nothing has come so far on how transmissible it is, how symptoms differ…, which is why we are segregating.”

The Gujarat government, also put on hold a request from the Gujarat University (GU) to dismantle the dedicated Covid-19 hospital on its premises, even as the state reported 38 new Covid-19 cases on Monday of which four each were from Surat, Valsad and Navsari. Two 15-year-old students were among those infected in Navsari. The other two patients are fully vaccinated adults.

In Valsad, of the four patients, three are fully vaccinated. Valsad health department sources said that two of the patients had attended marriage functions, one was working in a factory and another came in contact with a patient. All four are in home isolation.

Surat Municipal Corporation deputy municipal commissioner Dr Ashish Naik said. “This is a delta variant characteristic of cases coming within the same family. All four are fully vaccinated and one is below 18 years of age. All are asymptomatic.” The New Civil Hospital has reserved 300 oxygen beds for Omicron, said resident medical officer Dr Ketan Naik. The 900-bed hospital had three Covid 19 patients as of Monday.

Rajkot Civil Hospital has reserved 42 Omicron beds on the first floor of the super specialty block. District collector Arun Mahesh Babu said, that the medical oxygen supply issues faced during April-May this year have been addressed. He said that 157 persons, most with travel history to the United Kingdom and Dubai, have been kept under observation although all have tested negative for Covid on arrival.

“We are testing them on the third, fifth or seventh day as per protocol. We are focusing on speeding up the vaccination drive,” said the collector.

The Ahmedabad Civil Hospital created two Omicron wards with 12 beds each from the designated 200 beds reserved for Covid patients. Medical superintendent Dr Rakesh Joshi said it can be increased to 300 beds on an immediate basis.

Before the Omicron variant was detected in Gujarat, GU wrote to the state government, seeking permission for closure of the 900-bed ‘Dhanvantari Covid Care hospital’ set up with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), assuring it would be rebuilt when required. However, the government has asked the university authorities to wait for a week before dismantling the hospital.

“The DRDO hospital is in a suspended state. If required it will be operational within five days,” said principal secretary labour skill development and employment Anju Sharma, who is in the management committee of the hospital.

Dr Joshi said, “We are going with the assumption that the new variant will be more contagious and in the early days, it is easier and better to follow stringent protocols. Once it spreads, as we saw during the second wave, controlling transmission goes out of control. The government thus put out a guideline to isolate suspected or confirmed Omicron cases from other Covid cases.”

Rajkot Civil Hospital has designated 100 beds for Covid patients, which can be augmented to 1,100 beds if need be. Dr Radheshyam Trivedi, medical superintendent of Rajkot civil hospital, said that the hospital has also augmented its medical oxygen supply. “We now have eight PSA plants having cumulative capacity of 8,000 litres of oxygen per minute. We have also installed oxygen tanks that can store 42,000 litres of liquid oxygen,” said Dr Trivedi.

Another 100-bed movable hospital is being set up on Chaudhary High School ground, adjacent to the designated Covid-19 hospital on the civil hospital campus, expected to be inaugurated within a couple of weeks.

Babu also visited the microbiology laboratory of the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Medical College in Rajkot and reviewed facilities for Covid testing. “We have instructed the lab to mark VTMs containing samples of suspected cases of Omicron separately and treat them on priority basis,” said the collector.

In Vadodara, extended facilities for Covid-19 has been set up at Yagnapurush hall of the BAPS Swaminarayan temple in Atladara with 300 beds, 750 beds at Samras hostel of MS University, and 500 beds at the Pioneer Institute.

“The oxygen pipelines set up at Yagnapurush were moved to Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society (GMERS)-run Gotri medical college and those from Samras will be reinstalled at three upcoming Urban Community Health Centres (UCHC), the network at Pioneer, including an oxygen tank that was set up to treat critical patients is still a property of the VMC…,” said VMC Medical Officer for Health Dr Devesh Patel.

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