The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has designated two hospitals from the South Central Railways for COVID-19 treatment, but the state government has yet to grant permission.

Nurses checking facilities in the hospitalImage for representation..PTI
Coronavirus Coronavirus Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 16:10

All suspected coronavirus cases among Railway employees in Hyderabad are being shifted to Gandhi Hospital. This comes despite protests held by junior doctors at the hospital who demanded decentralisation of COVID-19 treatment. 

Hospital staff has also noted that Railways has their own hospitals which are equipped to handle these cases. 

So far, there are about 10 confirmed coronavirus cases in the Hyderabad zone of South Central Railway (SCR), as per sources from Railways. Most of the affected employees are from Rail Bhavan, Sanchalan Bhavan and other main office buildings in the city. 

"We are really afraid of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Despite taking precautions, we are not sure when we would be affected. Recently, an employee was admitted in a railway hospital with fever. However, when she tested positive for coronavirus, she was shifted to Gandhi hospital,” said an employee from Sanchalan Bhavan in Secunderabad division, on the condition of anonymity.

The employee further noted, "The patient could have been treated at the Railway Hospital itself, but she was again sent back to the already-crowded Gandhi Hospital. We are even afraid to get treated there. And why do we have to go there,when we have our own facility? And when private hospitals were given permission to treat COVID-19 cases, why not railway hospitals?"

With the rising number of cases, the organised and unorganised employee unions of the South Central Railways and others staff have been requesting SCR to start treating COVID-19 patients at the Railway Hospital. They have also given representation to General Manager Gajanan Mallya.

Railway officials have written to the state government for permission to treat COVID-19 patients, stating that they are equipped with isolation wards and quarantine facilities, and would be able to treat patients with mild symptoms. 

"We have already approached the state government to accord permission to treat the COVID-19 patients, however, we are not being given permission yet. It's been a week since a formal representation from the General Manager, SCR has been sent to the Telangana Chief Secretary, Somesh Kumar."

The official further added that the Railway Hospital can accommodate about 150 patients in its isolation wards. There are also about 200 beds in the quarantine facilities within the Railway Engineering College and Kalyan Bhavan located in Hyderabad city. They are now awaiting the green light from the state government’s side.

Earlier, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare designated two hospitals from the South Central Railways, i.e., Central Hospital at Lalaguda and divisional hospital at Vijayawada for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

However, Central Hospital at Lalaguda has not yet started treating COVID-19 patients as they have not received permission from the Telangana government. This facility alone can take care of Railway employees from Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Nanded divisions, as per the railway employees.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh has started utilising Railway hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients in the Vijayawada division. 

Earlier, requesting the same, Minister of State (MoS), Home affairs, G Kishan Reddy has also written to the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on behalf of his Secunderabad constituency, asking the state government to use Central Hospital in Lalaguda for COVID-19 patients.

Read: Private diagnostic centres in Hyderabad struggle to keep up with COVID-19 test load