With the raging second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the state, the Andhra Pradesh government has ordered temporary closure of sports complexes, gyms, and spas in the state. Addressing a press conference, Anil Kumar Singhal, principal secretary (medical and health) said all public transport vehicles and movie theatres should operate with only 50% capacity and any gatherings, including weddings, should not exceed 50 people. Even those 50 people should adhere to COVID-19 norms like wearing masks and maintaining physical distance, the official said.
Funerals and related gatherings can be attended by up to 20 persons while following COVID-19 protocol. All offices including government ones should ensure that there is five feet distance between any two employees.
Singhal said the government will conduct an audit on medical oxygen consumption in the state so that wastage is contained. "The Centre has allocated 341 MT of oxygen to the state. But it is not sufficient. We are observing the usage patterns. In many places, oxygen is getting wasted. In many cases, people are using oxygen even though they do not require it," Singhal said.
Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna on Monday said as much as 30% of medical oxygen is being wasted in hospitals. "The state government received information that oxygen is being wasted. It has come to the notice of the government that nearly 30% of the oxygen is being wasted in the state. Only those who need oxygen should only be given (in hospitals)," he said. "The State needs 390 tonnes of oxygen per day but we are getting only 360 tonnes (from all sources). We are requesting the Centre also to enhance the supply," he said. He further said the supply of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug to treat severe cases of COVID-19, is being monitored by the state government in order to curtail black-marketing.
The state has 95,131 active cases as of Monday morning, and the official COVID-19 death toll stood at 7,736.
On Monday, the state government announced that it would adopt a three-pronged strategy to check the spread of coronavirus in the state. The strategy is intended to ensure better treatment, oxygen, quality food, medicine, water and sanitation facilities in the COVID-19 hospitals, allotment of beds to COVID-19 patients and to check the services of the COVID-19 call centre. The three pronged strategy, which will work from the districts to the state level, will ensure that no private hospital charges more than the prescribed rate, and also monitoring of the medical services in the hospitals.
The district collectors will divide all the hospitals treating COVID-19 patients into clusters with 5 to 8 hospitals in each cluster. The collectors will appoint a district-level officer in-charge of each cluster. The officer, who will visit the hospitals frequently, will ensure that no private hospital charges more than the prescribed rates. Wherever a complaint is received, the officer will respond quickly and take necessary action. In the same way, the officer will look into the hospitals treating COVID-19 patients without permission within the cluster.
The district collector will set up a flying squad at the district level to check private hospitals from overcharging. The flying squad will comprise an officer from the Drug Control Division, one from the Vigilance Enforcement Division and another from the Medical Health Department. The squad will also assist to help the cluster in-charges work more efficiently. A special task force committee with senior officers at the state level has been set up to review the performance of the clusters and flying squads in the districts from time to time.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has called for increasing the number of COVID-19 tests and ensuring that the results come within 24 hours of testing.
(With PTI and IANS inputs)