A sum of Rs 15,000 to conduct the final rites of those who have succumbed to COVID-19 was announced by the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday. The decision was taken after the Opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) criticised the government for alleged inhuman handling of bodies of coronavirus victims.
"Rs 15,000 should be given towards the last rites of the deceased and (CM) instructed the officials to issue orders immediately," an official statement quoted him saying after a review meeting on COVID-19 containment measures.
The Chief Minister also warned that the government would take strict action against hospitals treating coronavirus patients if they were found denying medical treatment to any patients.
He also instructed the officials to take up a one-week special drive to provide quality services in the quarantine centres.
Stating that no hospital should turn away COVID-19 patients, the Chief Minister said, "If the hospital authority refuses to do so, he will be dealt with severely and the hospital permissions will be revoked."
The CM also directed officials to focus on hygiene, medicines, quality of food at quarantine centres and ensure that the call centre number for complaints is displayed at every COVID-19 Centre and that feedback be collected regularly.
Awareness should be on testing as well as the steps a person should take if he or she has COVID-19 symptoms.
The tests should also be carried out as per Standard Operating Procedure, which should mention the category that one has to undergo the tests, the Chief Minister added.
In the meeting, officials informed him that tests are being conducted in containment zones after tracing the contacts, and that the main reason for deaths was patients showing up in an advanced stage of coronavirus.
They also indicated that 17,000 doctors and over 12,000 nurses could be required in the coming days for handling COVID-19 patients in the state.
The Chief Minister has asked the officials to prepare an action plan, keeping future needs in mind.
Last week, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, had tweeted a video, showing bodies of coronavirus victims being dumped into a pit with the help of a JCB, and demanded an apology from the Chief Minister.
A similar incident took place on July 7 at Tirupati was also a cause of outrage. In its defense, the state government claimed that the tractor was used after taking written consent from the family of the deceased.
Naidu had tweeted that such incidents are occurring time and again in the state and slammed the government for not giving the patients a 'respectful departure'.