Anticipating the arrival of over 20,000 Indian citizens from the Middle East in the next few days, the BMC has started increasing its quarantine and isolation capacity across Mumbai. On Wednesday, plans were ongoing to increase at least 740 beds to quarantine people suspected of contracting COVID-19. In addition, at least 99 beds from 10 private hospitals were roped in to isolate those who test positive.
Currently, BMC has 300 quarantine beds at Seven Hills Hospital and 160 beds at the isolation facility in Kasturba Hospital. A quarantine centre is essentially a facility to keep suspected COVID-19 patients separated from normal population and observe them for symptoms. Those who develop symptoms are tested and transferred to an isolation facility if they test positive.
Recently, BMC had received instructions from the Centre to be prepared to quarantine Indian nationals who would be airlifted and brought to the Mumbai international airport from various countries till the end of March. Officials said the instructions they have received state that around 20,000 people will arrive at the airport from middle eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Iran in the next few days.
The MCGM centre for Municipal Capacity Building and Research in Powai has been readied to function as an isolation centre. On Wednesday, civic officials visited the facility where 250 beds will be set up. “We will be diverting doctors and nurses from another civic hospital to this centre,” said Dr Jeetendra Jadhav, L-ward medical officer.
In Andheri West, Corporator Alpa Jadhav said a nursing home with 40 beds has been approved to become a quarantine centre. “The nursing home has doctors, nurses and cleaning staff. It will be entirely converted into a quarantine centre. Approvals have been received,” she added. At least 200 quarantine beds will be set up BMC training centre in Borivali, another 250 in public works department in Andheri, and few more hundred in Andheri Sports Complex.
Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi said, “Following the instructions from central government, the BMC is making arrangements for additional quarantine facilities since the number of passengers will be high. Private hospitals will also be roped in for quarantine beds.”
The civic body will also increase the number of screening staff at the airport. Currently, there are 10 batches for screening, it will now be increased to 12. So far, over 2.40 lakh travellers have been screened at the airport.
The BMC is also in talks with builder associations, who have shown willingness to give vacant flats as quarantine facilities. The Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDI) has also agreed to provide vacant flats. For treatment, patients who have tested positive may be asked to pay if they get admitted in any one of the 10 private hospitals roped in for treatment, including Jaslok, Fortis Mulund, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani, Hinduja Hospital, Lilavati, Bombay hospital and Jagjivan Ram hospitals. Civic officials said 10 private hospitals have agreed to reserve 99 beds for patients.
Officials said that the COVID-19 positive patients referred by BMC to private hospitals will be given 50 per cent concession on isolation bed charges. The decision was taken in a meeting with private hospitals called by Pardeshi on Wednesday. According to the civic body, the concession will be given on only isolation bed charges. Patient have to pay medicine charges separately.
“When patients are referred by the civic body, they will be charged only 50 per cent of the costs. This will be applicable on all private run charitable and fully private hospitals. The concession will be applicable only on bed charges and medicine charges have to be paid by patient,” Additional Municipal Commis-sioner Suresh Kakani said. When asked about patients directly walking into private hospitals for isolation, he said, “This was discussed in the meeting and hospitals have agreed that they will consider the concession for them also.”
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