Rs 137 cr: Amount Navi Mumbai civic body has spent to tackle Covid-19Updated: Sep 20, 2020, 01:10 IST
The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), which detected its first Covid-19 case on March 13, has spent Rs 137 cr so far to tackle the pandemic. It has sought an additional Rs 251 cr from the state government to increase the facilities.
From having just one single hospital, the Vashi General Hospital, for tackling Covid patients to having 10 Covid care facilities and reserved hospital beds for Covid, NMMC has come a long way.
NMMC has 35,364 positive cases till date. Around 3,565 are active while 790 deaths have been reported. Till now 1,70,575 people have undergone Covid-19 test, of which 67,071 people are RTPCR test and 103,504, rapid antigen test.
Abhijit Bangar, NMMC commissioner, said, “With the increasing number of cases, we have faced scarcity of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, with over 40 per cent ICU beds occupied by patients from cities like Thane, Kalyan and Raigad.
“Our focus is to increase the ICU beds and also beds with ventilators. Till now, the state government has provided us Rs 10 cr during the pandemic. We have requested for Rs 251 cr more. Currently, the NMMC is using funds from its own coffers. If needed, we will also procure the budget of other heads for health because right now the priority is to handle the Covid situation.”
Navi Mumbai has increased contact tracing and testing that has helped bring the doubling rate of the positive COVID cases to 42 days. “Isolation of positive patients and timely treatment has brought down the mortality rate from 3.3% to 2.19% while the recovery rate has gone up from 50 per cent to 87 per cent. Attempts are on to bring down the mortality rate further. Management of containment area enforcement is very crucial as many people have now started taking the pandemic very lightly. Hence, we have planned Nuisance Detection Squad (NDS) for which we will hire around 100 ex-army men to keep a check on people flouting norms and penalise them,” Bangar said.
Additional Commissioner of NMMC, Sujata Dhole, said, “We have been increasing the facilities as per the rise in cases and need of the hour. By March end, the total number of cases was still in two digits and the facilities we had were the Vashi General Hospital and Swami Vivekananda Multipurpose Hall at Sector 14 in Vashi. In April, we had acquired India Bulls flats in Panvel and by May, we started using them.”
By April end, the doubling rate of the positive cases changed from 11 days to six days. Keeping the chances of spread in mind, NMMC had increased the capacity of isolation centres.
After acquiring 3,000 flats at India Bulls, the civic body kept increasing the smaller facilities in Koparkhairane, Airoli, Belapur, Nerul and Vashi. “On August 3, we entered a MOU with DY Patil hospital for ICU beds. On September 10, we started three more facilities in Turbhe, Airoli and Turbhe,” AMC Dhole added.
From July end, the average daily cases reported crossed 300 and by August end, it crossed 400.
Navi Mumbai activist Anarjit Chauhan said that NMMC has failed in providing adequate beds to the patients. He said, “As far as RT-PCR testing is concerned, NMMC is doing a good job but I am against the rapid antigen test. It is a test that even US government doesn’t recommend. It is nothing but wastage of tax payer’s money. Now, NMMC has started door to door rapid tests and it is a huge waste of time, resources and money. The staff involved in the antigen test could be very well assigned to do something productive.”
He claimed to get quite frequent calls from people to help them arrange the beds. “Private hospitals do not want patients via government quota and are waiting for a direct patient who will pay their hefty bill. There have been so many violations by private hospitals in terms of overcharging and denying beds but not many has been penalised yet. The private hospitals are not even implementing the government schemes for the Covid treatment that they should be. NMMC should look into the black marketing of private hospitals more stringently,” Chauhan said.