One of the three states selected by the Centre for a visit by an expert team to assist and advise it on coronavirus management, Telangana has seen private hospitals in capital city Hyderabad get swamped by patients as it ramps up its low testing.
With cases jumping to 11,364 as on June 26, private hospitals are now issuing advisories asking asymptomatic cases or those with mild symptoms to stay at home. Some are also offering packages for home isolation, which include online consultation with doctors, a medical kit, including pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen levels, paper gloves, sanitisers, masks and special disposal bags.
Telangana has been consistently attacked for having among the lowest testing numbers in the country — 1,200 tests per million against the national average of 4,800-odd tests per million — despite a positivity rate of 18% that is nearly three times the national average. The state government on June 15 allowed private hospitals to take in Covid patients, which prompted a rush to get admitted.
“We are telling people to let beds be available for critically ill patients. Don’t choke the hospitals, we are already full,” Dr Bhaskar Rao, president of the Telangana Super Speciality Hospitals Association, told The Indian Express.
He said there are about 2,000 coronavirus patients in the 30-35 big private hospitals in the city. “The private hospitals have around 3,000 beds with oxygen facility, and 180-200 beds with ventilators,” Rao added, urging milder or asymptomatic cases to take up the home quarantine packages being offered.
Private hospitals are charging around Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per day for 14-day home isolation. The Telangana government has capped the cost per day in an isolation ward at a private hospital at Rs 4,000. Treatment without a ventilator in ICU can’t cost more than Rs 7,500 per day, and with a ventilator Rs 9,000 per day. This does not include overheads, like medicines and injections.
An official of Yashoda Hospitals said they had stopped admitting asymptomatic patients. “We saw an increasing number of people coming even if they had a cough or cold, because they were anxious about having coronavirus… There is no space, so we are asking the mild cases to quarantine at home and avail treatment which we are prescribing. Our doctors and medical workers stay in touch with them,’’ he said.
Between them, Apollo, Yashoda, Care, and the Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences claim to have about 3,000 coronavirus patients in home quarantine under the care of their doctors.
Managements of major private hospitals said they were also in talks with over 15 private medical colleges to make at least 10,000 beds available. “If successful, more hospital beds with oxygen facilities would be available,” an official said.
Telangana Health Minister Etela Rajender said they had handed over the sports village in Hyderabad to the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences to provide 1,000 beds.
Currently, Gandhi Hospital is the only fully Covid-dedicated government hospital in Hyderabad. Rajendar said the city’s 12 government general hospitals have a combined capacity of 4,777 isolation beds, including 325 ICU beds and 275 ICU beds with ventilators.
As of Thursday, 86 people were on ventilator support in various hospitals of Hyderabad, while 460 people with comorbidities were in ICU.
Of the total active cases in Telangana, 4,688 have recovered. Its death toll stands at 230.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines