Amid surge in Covid-19 cases, Gehlot asks private hospitals to increase beds

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday asked private hospitals to increase capacity to admit Covid-19 patients as the average daily increase in coronavirus cases in the state in the past fortnight has been highest since the outbreak of the pandemic in March this year. The Centre had already sent a team of experts to help the state bring the increase under control, official data showed.

On Friday, Rajasthan reported 8.36 percent increase (2,762 new cases) in Covid-19 cases taking the total number to 2,37,669. Since November 1, Rajasthan has reported around 40,000 new Covid-19 cases, which is about one-sixth of the total cases reported in the state since March 25. The number of active cases has also crossed the 20,000-mark for the first time in this pandemic, officials said.

Most number of cases have been reported from Jaipur (41,547), followed by Jodhpur (35,159), Alwar (17,809), Bikaner (17,272), Kota (13,146), and Ajmer (12,531). Amid the pandemic, the state has also reported 2,130 Covid-19 deaths. State medical and health secretary Siddharth Mahajan said Covid-19 death rate in the state was 0.91 percent which was less than the national average of about 1.5 percent.

Dr Ajit Singh, superintendent of Rajasthan University of Health Sciences, biggest Covid-19 government hospital in the state, said the reason of sudden spike in cases is the change in weather, decrease in temperature and community spread. “The next two months – December and January – will witness an increase in cases and then it will start coming down,” he said.

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Singh said the government is increasing Covid-19 health facilities with over 1,200 beds reserved for Covid-19 patients. However, he admitted that many hospitals were facing a shortage of beds because of the sudden increase in patients. “We are working to improve bed capacity in government hospitals,” he said.

In a statement, chief minister Gehlot said that the private hospitals have been asked to increase beds for Covid-19 patients and provide treatment as per the guidelines and at the rates prescribed by the state government.

Interacting with the representatives of private hospitals on Friday, CM Gehlot said the cases were increasing due to reasons such as dip in daily temperature and public rush during the festive season.

“In view of this, it is necessary to increase the oxygen availability and intensive care unit (ICU) beds. The state government is continuously expanding medical facilities in state hospitals. Private hospitals should also increase the number of beds ensuring that not a single patient is denied treatment,” the government said in a statement quoting the CM.

To control spread of the infection in rural areas, the government said oxygen reading meters have been provided to Anganwadi workers to check oxygen level of those showing Covid-19 symptoms and now they would be provided to Asha workers as well. The CM also asked people in rural areas to take the diseases seriously as about 27 percent of the total deaths accounted from the villages.

On Friday, the Central government sent an expert panel headed by Dr V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, to Rajasthan for assessing the ground situation and for holding discussions with the state health department officials. The team is also expected to visit districts from where the maximum number of fresh cases are being reported, said a health ministry statement.

The Rajasthan government officials have ruled out imposition of a lockdown even though night curfew may be imposed in certain places, officials said. “District magistrates have been empowered to take measures to control the spread of Covid,” a senior Rajasthan government official said.

Raman Sharma, senior professor, department of medicine, Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Hospital, said it was the first winter of the Covid-19 pandemic and one would have to see how the virus behaves. “So far, we have seen that more patients are coming and the intensity of the virus load is also high. Therefore, in most hospitals the beds are full and we are making effort to provide medical help to the patients.”

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