Set up makeshift hospital to tackle possible COVID surge: Union govt to states

Union health ministry Saturday advised the state governments to initiates the process of setting up makeshift hospitals and constitute terms to monitor patients in home isolation, amid rising cases of coronavirus.

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to chief secretaries of all states/union territories on measures to deal with the possible rise in COVID-19 cases.

Coronavirus cases have been rising sharply in many parts of the country in recent weeks. On Saturday, India reported 22,775 new COVID-19 infections.

Bhushan asked all states to operationalize control room at the sub district level and revisit the COVID dedicated health infrastructure.

“It is imperative to re emphasize the significance of timely and swift upgradation of health infrastructure in all states and Union territories as highlighted in my previous letter, as well as multiple VCs held by the Union with states. This becomes all the more important since with the sudden increase in cases, we may start seeing a stressed health infrastructure,” Bhushan said in his letter.

The health secretary said that state governments could create makeshift hospitals in co-ordination with the Defense Research and Development Organization and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and with the private sector and non-governmental organizations, ANI reported.

“States may also consider leveraging hotel rooms and other accommodations linked with the Covid dedicated hospitals in government and private sector to cater to patients having mild to moderate symptoms of Covid-19, as was done in some States during the earlier surge in cases,” read the letter.

Bhushan further noted that many coronavirus patients would be eligible for home isolation.

“These cases would require effective follow-up and a clearly defined mechanism for prompt shifting to a health facility in case of deterioration in their health situation,” he said.

The health secretary, along with Indian Council of Medical Research chief Balram Bhargava, had written to state governments on 31 December as well, asking them to ramp up rapid antigen tests in situations where administering RT-PCR tests poses challenges.

The officials advised states to set up multiple booths for round-the-clock rapid antigen tests. They also asked states to permit such testing at government and private hospitals, including all districts hospitals and primary healthcare centres.