Bihar seeks help from army doctors as Covid-19 cases spike
A two-member team from the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) was in Patna on Wednesday to assess the state’s preparedness to fully operationalise the Employees State Insurance (ESI) hospital at Bihta in the city for treatment of Covid-19 patients, as Bihar reported 21 deaths with 4,786 new cases — the highest in a single day so far. Patna accounted for 1,483 cases and four deaths.
Among those infected were three senior IAS officers, including an officer in the rank of chief secretary, another of the home department and an IPS officer. A minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet had also tested positive. Several senior officers in the home department, public health and engineering department, finance and the Information and Public Relations Department had also gone in for home isolation. A senior officer of the home department was admitted to the AIIMS-Patna on Wednesday.
The DRDO team has agreed to extend help to the state government by providing 50 doctors to fully operationalise the 500-bed ESI hospital, said people familiar with the development in the state health department.
The Bihar government had on Tuesday sought assistance from the army in providing doctors to fully operationalise the ESI hospital.
In a letter to the defence secretary, Bihar’s principal secretary Pratyaya Amrit requested the defence secretary to send 50 doctors from the Armed Forces Medical Corps (AFMC) so that the ESI hospital could be utilised properly.
“We will depute the requisite number of nurses and other para-medical staff and have requested the defence ministry to send 50 doctors from the armed forces so that the 500-bed hospital can be utilised properly like last year,” said Amrit.
“Presently, the facilities exist but in the light of the surge in Covid-19 cases in Bihar, particularly in Patna, it is of urgent necessity to utilise the existing facilities of ESI hospital, Bihta. At present, we are using only 50 beds in this hospital with the services of a few doctors and other support from the state government,” Amrit added.
Executive director, State Health Society, Manoj Kumar, said, “We will work on war-footing to operationalise the facility after a team from the DRDO visited Bihta on Wednesday and later held discussions with our principal secretary.”
The 500-bed Covid Care facility at ESI Bihta was set up last year under the PM Cares Fund.
The Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) will operationalise 100 ICU beds for Covid-19 patients on Thursday, Kumar said.
The Patna district administration had on Wednesday earmarked 14 more private hospitals in Patna city for treatment of Covid-19 patients, increasing the bed strength by 199, said Patna district magistrate Chandrashekhar Singh. With this altogether 47 private facilities, having cumulative 985 beds, have been identified in the district for treatment of Covid-19 cases, he added.
The health department was also keeping tabs on oxygen generation plants in the state to ensure there was no hoarding or black-marketing.