Himachal Pradesh has decided to augment its health infrastructure and staff amid a surge in coronavirus cases in recent days, which has threatened to overburden its hospitals.
Three prefabricated makeshift hospitals will be coming up in a fortnight, two more hospitals are being converted exclusively into covid centres and the state health department has hired 250 additional nurses, lab technicians and other staff on an outsource and temporary basis, Health Secretary Amitabh Awasthi said in a press briefing on Friday.
He said that Shimla and Mandi districts are currently reporting a high positivity rate of around 15 per cent and are the only two districts having more than one thousand active cases. There are around 2,000 and 1,500 active cases in Shimla and Mandi, respectively, while the total active cases in the state are nearly 8,000.
Awasthi said that prefabricated structures for three makeshift hospitals in Shimla, Nalagarh and Tanda have already been built in Noida by Roorkee-based Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), and the hospitals are likely to become functional in a fortnight.
Two hospitals in Rohru and Khaneri (Rampur) in Shimla district having a bed capacity of 35 and 20 respectively are being converted into dedicated Covid health centres within the next three days, and a similar centre will be established in Kullu district as well, he said.
“There is sufficient bed capacity in Covid wards as of now, but there have been times when the occupancy has exceeded 95 per cent, which is a risky situation. The hospital in Rampur will cut down the travel time for patients coming from Kinnaur,” said Awasthi.
Regarding Covid testing, Awasthi said that nearly 6,000 tests are now being conducted daily and additional lab technicians have been hired to carry out testing in 24/7 mode. Currently, 47 out of 198 ambulance vehicles from the 108 fleet are being used for Covid, he said, adding that 30 more ambulances from another fleet under the director of health services will be deployed for Covid duty in the districts of Shimla, Mandi and Kangra.
The health secretary said that around 90,000 people in the state have so far been screened for Covid-19, leprosy and tuberculosis symptoms under the Him Suraksha Abhiyan launched earlier this week.
Awasthi said that one or two Covid patients faced shortage of oxygen supply at the zonal hospital in Dharamshala once following a hundred per cent occupancy of beds. In another instance, a vehicle ferrying oxygen cylinders met with an accident leading to a delay in oxygen supply at the DDU Zonal Hospital in Shimla.
“But these are stray incidents and a surplus stock of oxygen cylinders has now been ensured at both the hospitals. We are also repeatedly instructing all medical staff to be courteous and compassionate while dealing with patients,” said Awasthi.
He also referred to a viral video related to the shifting of a Covid patient from one hospital to another in Shimla.
“The patient was suffering from a spinal problem which required treatment at IGMC but there was a delay in shifting him for which we have started an inquiry to rectify any shortcomings or lapses. We’re also trying to ensure that non-Covid health services do not suffer due to the Covid crisis,” he said.
A three-member team of the central government is touring some districts in Himachal to take stock of the pandemic situation and suggest measures for tackling the crisis, said the health secretary.
Medical, nursing colleges to open next month
All medical and paramedical educational institutes in the state will be allowed to reopen in early December but students will have to undergo Covid testing and take a written parental consent before resuming classes, the health secretary said.
Hospitality staff to be tested in Kangra
Kangra district authorities have asked the proprietors of all hotels, guest houses, homestays, resorts, restaurants, dhabas and eateries in the district to ensure that all their employees are tested for Covid within seven days. Violators of the order may be prosecuted under the Disaster Management Act.
HP COVID FIGURES
Total cases – 37,497
Total tested – 5.08 lakh
Active cases – 7,878
Recoveries – 28,993
Deaths – 589