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Surge in cases forces PMC to reopen alternate Covid care centres

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has tied up with several hotels, wedding halls and other facilities to serve as Covid care centres to help isolate patients with mild symptoms.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas , Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: April 23, 2021 4:29:05 am
Workers keeping the dead bodies in Coffin refrigerators at Yerwada crematorium on Monday as the number of COVID-19 dead bodies are very high. (Express photo by Arul Horizon)

As Pune is reeling under increased Covid-19 infections, hotels and private institutions have restarted paid isolation centres for mild or asymptomatic patients who can’t isolate themselves at their homes, said Ganesh Shetty, president of the Pune Restaurant and Hoteliers Association. Around 40 hotels in the city have started such services.

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has tied up with several hotels, wedding halls and other facilities to serve as Covid care centres to help isolate patients with mild symptoms, Municipal Commissioner Vikram Kumar said.

There are over one lakh active Covid-19 cases in Pune district. In the PMC areas, there are as many as 51,920 active cases. Dr Ashish Bharati, health chief of the PMC, said there are 2,000 isolation beds across six government-run Covid care centres, while another 2,500 beds will be added soon.

For this purpose, they have identified nearly 10 hotels and another 25 facilities, including wedding halls and recreation centres.

At present, approximately 10,000-11,000 new cases are being detected in Pune every day. Total 74,772 people are in home isolation and over 26,996 are admitted to hospitals that are witnessing a huge strain as a large number of patients with mild symptoms are trying to get admitted.

Business for the hotel and hospitality industry took a hit when the pandemic began last year. The state and the local administration eventually decided to use their services as institutional isolation centres at discounted rates.

Last year, hotels were also used to isolate those returning from abroad on the Vande Bharat flights. The package deal saw hotels charging a discounted rate for three meals along with room rent.

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Shetty said the model has restarted in the city as the demand for isolation beds has gone up. “This is a paid model for those who want to isolate themselves from home. These centres are run in accordance with the government rules and authorities keep a tab on the health of patients on a daily basis. The hotel staff provide service with minimal contact or interaction with the guests,” Shetty said, adding that they are writing to the authorities for a special vaccination drive for the hotel staff.

“We can coordinate the same in a hotel where our staff can be vaccinated,” he added.

Other properties have also started converting themselves into isolation centres. Minal Gadia has recently converted his hostel near a prominent engineering college into a 200-bed isolation centre, of which 75 beds have oxygen facility.

“We would have a doctor and two nurses on each of our floor and all facilities would be provided to the patients,” he added.

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