No positive case yet, but Assam gears up to face Covid-19 head on
Among other steps being taken by the government to handle the situation, an apartment complex has been taken on rent near the quarantine facility where nearly 200 doctors can stay.
Assam is one of the very few states in the country not to have recorded any positive case of Covid-19 till date. The state government though is gearing up to face the health crisis head on.
On Thursday, work started on setting up a 1000-bed quarantine facility at a stadium in Guwahati, a similar one in another stadium within the city has also been planned.
“The facility at Sausajai stadium will be completed within a week and necessities like food, lodging and other facilities will be taken care of by the government. If needed, we will construct a similar facility with additional 1000 beds at Nehru Stadium,” health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
Initially, the facility will be used to house nearly 700 residents of the state who came back from other states but are stranded at the inter-state borders due to the lockdown. They will be brought by special buses to Guwahati and quarantined for at least two weeks.
The government has also taken on rent an apartment complex near the quarantine facility where nearly 200 doctors can stay. It will become operational within the next few days.
Earlier this week, Sarma had said that Assam might need around 20,000 isolation beds if the disease spreads. He admitted the state’s healthcare sector might not be able to take the burden of a large scale outbreak.
The state government is in talks with construction firms to set up a large hospital exclusively for Covid-19 patients. In the meantime, there is a plan to convert all major government hospitals in the state into exclusive facilities to treat Covid-19 patients.
Talks have taken place with private hospitals to take the load of all other patients--for which the state government will compensate private players as per existing government rules.
“I suggested that while government hospitals can be restricted for Covid-19 patients, regular patients can be sent to them (private hospitals) for which we will reimburse,” Sarma tweeted on Wednesday.
Private hospitals in the state have already started responding positively. On Thursday, GNRC, one of the biggest private hospital groups in the state, announced that it will place all 500 beds it has in the state at the disposal of state government to treat non-Covid-19 patients.
“This is the most appropriate step under prevailing circumstances. I appeal to owners of other private healthcare institutions in Assam to join hands with the government at this hour of crisis,” tweeted Dr Nomal Chandra Borah, founder chairman, GNRC Hospitals.
The state government is also planning to take services of nearly 700 final year medical students in the state and around 2,000 final year nursing students to tackle Covid-19.
“We have prepared a training module on coronavirus for them which will be imparted from this week,” Sarma said.
Recruitment process of ward boys and girls is being speeded up so that around 400-500 of them can start work soon.
Till date 210 samples have been tested in four accredited government labs in Assam. Results of all have come negative thus far.
One positive Covid-19 case each has been found in Manipur and Mizoram while the other states in the region-Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura-are yet to record any positive case.
The state government has asked district officials to take stern action against those who are violating lockdown norms. Videos have surfaced on social media platforms of people crowding market places and also of security personnel baton-charging violators.
“I appeal to people to follow lockdown rules and not spread misinformation. We have also asked police to register criminal case against those who mistreat healthcare workers,” Sarma said.