Andhra Pradesh

COVID-19 | Homebound and isolated as A.P. runs out of hospital beds

Though the first wave of COVID-19 spared several families and localities, the second wave which began in mid-February a year after the pandemic first struck, has impacted almost every neighbourhood and every family in the State in one way or the other.

Over five lakh persons were infected (three lakh recovered) and 2,000 persons succumbed to the disease in the second wave so far and there was no slow down in the surge even a week after the imposition of the 18-hour curfew. Though the number of daily infections appears less than the peak of 23,920 reported two weeks ago the daily positivity rate in the past several days was much higher.

The government ramped up medical supplies and infrastructure capacities but has reportedly not been able to reach out to everyone in need.

As of Friday, only around 14% of the total infected persons were in COVID hospitals, 8% mild or asymptomatic patients were in COVID Care Centres and the remaining 78% were in their homes. There are only a few private quarantine and isolation facilities in the State.

For many of those under home isolation, it wasn’t a choice in the current situation where there is a dearth of information, beds, medicines and other requirements.

Unlike in the first wave, many infected persons have recovered at homes without any involvement of the government but those requiring medicines, psychological and other support have been deprived of it.

The Health Department has been asking people to dial 104 for help in finding beds, testing, home isolation kits, test results and other needs related to COVID-19 and about 15,000 calls per day are being handled by the 24x7 call centre.

Finding an ICU or oxygen bed has become the most difficult task as most in government hospitals are officially occupied and those in private hospitals are not affordable. People have been taking to social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp to get help from people like actor Sonu Sood, cricketer Hanuma Vihari and several other activists.

The Health Department’s Aarogya Andhra handle on Twitter also responds to requests but not as responsive as other activists who are also getting things done through various means. People also continue to scout for oxygen cylinders and medicines for treatment at home in the absence of proper channels to acquire them.

Amidst a deluge of information on treatment procedures and medicines on digital platforms for COVID-19 patients, there is no single platform like a website with updated information by the State government.

However, the State government has roped in over 3,000 doctors for tele-medicine consultation through 104 and thousands under home isolation are being counselled every day.

In rural areas which were badly affected by the second wave, many still go to RMPs for treatment and follow their instructions for home isolation.

Mental health helpline

Recently, the Health Department also started a helpline to reach out to patients needing psychological help. Those in need of mental health advice regarding COVID-19 can dial 8297 488444 or 8297 499444 but this information was posted only on its Twitter handle. Finding an ambulance to shift the deceased has been more difficult than ever as one has to shell out thousands of rupees for a distance of even a few kilometres. The Krishna district administration has capped ambulance charges based on the distance covered but only a few operators are following it. Many had to depend on voluntary organisations offering free or affordable ambulance services in the city.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 10:36:13 AM |

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