Updated: May 7, 2021 6:17:18 am
The West Bengal government will field roughly three lakh untrained health workers and medical interns in its fight against the second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said after holding a meeting with top state officials on Thursday.
Accusing the Centre of vaccine politics, the CM said, “Instead of helping states manage Covid-19 by sending timely oxygen supplies, they are sending a team to probe violence.”
She announced that her government has allowed all public and private hospitals to increase their bed capacities by 40% to meet the rush of Covid patients, adding that the same will enhance the total number of beds in hospitals across the state to around 30,000.
The CM informed that a decision was also taken to set up oxygen plants at all medical and super-speciality hospitals. “The hospital authorities will be able to do it themselves. The medical colleges in the districts have been given the authority to do it themselves since doing it centrally may take some time. We do not want to waste time,” she said.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Banerjee said, “I have written many letters to the Prime Ministers, asking for more vaccines and requesting him to formulate a definite vaccine policy. But he didn’t reply to any of them. Maybe he was busy.”
Accusing the Centre of routing West Bengal’s share of oxygen to other states, the CM said, “They are sending oxygen to other states instead of Bengal. The central government should answer why people across the country are suffering. Why is the young generation suffering? These are horrible days. Where is the PM-Cares fund when we need it the most? They cannot accept people’s verdict and are, therefore, sending central teams instead of vaccines.”
On the question of getting more doctors, she said third-year post graduate trainees will be employed in treating Covid-19 patients. “Since their examinations have been postponed, they can be utilised in treating Covid-19 patients. They will get some extra benefit for this. It will help us in getting 2,000 more doctors and nurses,” Banerjee added.
On using as untrained health workers as the first line of defence against the pandemic, she said, “We can use this workforce. We can call them ‘Swasthya Suraksha Bondhu’ (friends for medical help). We have planned to use them in our fight against the pandemic as they are spread far and wide, across villages and blocks. It is a huge workforce which we want to utilise as villagers visit them regularly for treatment and advice. The state government is in the process of framing guidelines in the form of dos and don’ts for this purpose.” She added these rural healthcare workers, who don’t have medical degrees, are often consulted by villagers for minor ailments in the absence of qualified doctors.
Citing the alarming numbers, the CM said, “I humbly request everyone to abide by the protocols and wear masks every time. I also urge all to maintain peace in their area and Puja committees and clubs should keep up their vigilance and extend all help to those suffering from Covid-19.”
She also appealed to the minority community to, “maintain protocol and avoid gatherings even on Eid”. Banerjee held a meeting with clerics, Puja committees, market committees and officials of the district administrations on Monday to discuss the prevailing Covid situation.
The government had earlier used ASHA workers to identify patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARI) and Influenza-like Illness (ILI) in a door-to-door campaign and spread awareness on Covid-19.
18,431 fresh cases and 117 deaths in last 24 hrs
West Bengal on Thursday registered its highest single-day Covid-19 death toll at 117, taking the total to 11,964. According to the health department bulletin, the caseload rose to 9,35,006 with a record addition of 18,431 new cases in the last 24 hours. As many as 17,412 patients recovered from the infection. The number of active cases rose to 1,22,774. Since Monday, 60,105 samples have been tested in the state.
Of the fresh deaths, North 24 Parganas and Kolkata registered the highest number of deaths at 36 and 33 respectively.
Meanwhile, those arriving in West Bengal by train must carry negative RT-PCR report, the Railways said on Thursday citing an order from the chief secretary of the state.
“The Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal have issued an order… Incoming passengers by long distance trains and inter-state buses will also mandatorily carry RT- PCR negative test reports. No West Bengal-bound passenger is expected to board a train or bus with destination in West Bengal without such a test report,” the Railways said. (Express News Service)
With PTI inputs
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