West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay on Monday said the state government is taking measures to bring down the cost of Covid-19 tests and treatment. The decision was taken during a Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, at state secretariat Nabanna.
Apprehensive about a surge in Covid-19 cases in the weeks after Durga Puja, the state government decided to increase bed strength in hospitals 50 per cent.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to bringing down the cost of Covid-19 tests in the private sector from Rs 2,250 to Rs 1,500, and requested the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission to reduce ambulance charges, said Bandyopadhyay.
“Keeping in mind the Covid-19 pandemic, the state government has decided to increase 600 more dedicated, free government ICU and HDG beds before Durga Puja. We have decided to reduce the rate of conducting Covid-19 tests from Rs 2,250 to Rs 1,500. This is the Chief Minister’s gift during this Durga Puja festival,” Bandyopadhyay told reporters.
The chief secretary said 48 beds were already added to the ESI Baltiguri, while 56 new beds will be added to the Bangur Hospital. “Another 496 beds will be added to other hospitals in the next two three weeks,” he added.
At present, there are 1,243 dedicated Covid-19 ICU beds in all hospitals, and after the upgrade there will be over 1,800 such beds, Bandyopadhyay said, adding that 2,475 nurses would soon be employed at different hospitals across the state.
“The state government has been offering free ambulance services to people. However, there are people who avail ambulance service offered by private hospitals. For them, the fare should be decreased during this festive period. We are requesting the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission to look into it to bring down the rate to an acceptable rate,” he said.
President of the Association of Hospitals of Eastern India and Group CEO of AMRI Hospitals, Rupak Barua said, “As the government further caps the cost of Covid detection test at Rs 1,500, we will implement it as per the directive. However, we will also like the government to reconsider the rate as this is not financially viable for us, taking into account the cost of reagent, test kit and infrastructure. Private hospitals have been suffering losses for the last eight months, and this will further affect our condition.”
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