Andhra Pradesh

As COVID-19 cases spike, Andhra Pradesh prepares for the bigger challenge

With active cases increasing six-fold within a month in State, authorities have adopted new strategies to tackle the pandemic which includes separation of facilities for mild and serious cases and allowing private hospitals to treat COVID patients

In the last week of May, the State’s health department was dealing with around 1,000 active patients undergoing treatment at the designated COVID hospitals. The number of active cases on any given day in May was between 814 and 1,177 as more patients recovered.

From the beginning of June, the cases detected daily increased drastically and as of Saturday, the State was dealing with 6,648 patients

in government, private medical college hospitals and private hospitals taken over by the Department of Medical and Health.

As the active cases increased six-fold within a month, the State has adopted new strategies to effectively treat patients while not ignoring efforts to control the death rate.

In June so far, an average of 324 new cases were reported or admitted to hospitals daily while an average of 116 patients recovered and got discharged every day.

COVID Care Centres

"Considering the nationwide phenomenon, a rise in the number of cases is expected and also in most cases patients have mild symptoms. In order to reduce the burden on COVID-designated hospitals that treat critical cases, we have started allowing home isolation of asymptomatic and mild patients. If these patients have no facilities for home isolation then they will be given treatment at the COVID Care Centres (CCCs)," Special Chief Secretary (Medical, Health and Family Welfare) K.S. Jawahar Reddy tells The Hindu.

"Collectors have been told to be prepared for at least 100 new cases daily and set up CCCs with a capacity of 1,500 beds. Most of the districts already have the CCCs in place and a few asymptomatic patients have been admitted there," Dr. Jawahar Reddy says.

Treatment in pvt. hospitals

The government is also considering allowing treatment of COVID patients at private hospitals. Several States have already allowed the private sector to treat patients, where overpricing has turned a major concern for the public.

"The matter is under circulation and only hospitals with a minimum of 100 beds and separate blocks or floors will be allowed to treat COVID patients. The government will fix tariffs for treatment," Dr. Reddy explains.

However, only a few hospitals are coming forward to provide treatment for COVID patients.

Pulmonologist Dr. M. Ravindranath of a city-based hospital chain says that most hospitals in the State do not have the infrastructure to manage COVID and non-COVID patients on their premises. Only the hospitals that can dedicate an entire block will be able to offer such service.

However, Dr. Ravindranath says that private hospitals and doctors will be able to extend their services if the government can provide makeshift premises.

New approach

Meanwhile, regarding the increasing death rate Dr. Jawahar Reddy says that the department has evolved the ‘Testing to Reduce Mortality’ strategy to bring down deaths.

The high-risk persons and aged people in containment zones and other areas will be the priority for testing. Some of them will be tested directly and some depending on their oxygen levels.

"If we can detect the infection early and give a window of at least six to seven days many vulnerable patients could be saved," he adds.

Currently, the State has over 20,000 beds in various hospitals and the COVID Care Centres will have an additional 20,000 beds for mild cases.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 10:46:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/preparing-for-the-bigger-challenge/article31935755.ece

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