A newly-wed couple undergo thermal screening at a temple in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. (PTI)
Learning from the experience of other countries wherein exclusive COVID hospitals have been set up, Andhra Pradesh has designated 13 hospitals in all its 13 districts as Covid hospitals. “No other patient will be treated in these hospitals except Covid cases to avoid any spread of the virus,’’ Special Chief Secretary (Health) Dr K S Jawahar Reddy said.
On Tuesday, the state placed an order to procure three lakh Covid rapid testing kits. Once the kits are delivered, the state will undertake the massive exercise of randomly testing 8,000 samples from across the state to better understand the extent of the spread.
Authorities will also undertake extensive testing in containment zones established across the state where a large number of positive cases have been reported, especially Kurnool, Nellore, Kadapa, Guntur and Krishna districts.
The state also placed an order for 20 lakh PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) where 30,000 PPEs will be delivered every week. It has also placed orders for delivery 14 lakh N-95 masks besides 1500 ventilators and 20,000 masks will be supplied every week.
“A containment strategy is being implemented in clusters where positive cases were reported across the state. About 1,000 samples were collected from these clusters and chances are likely to have positive cases from these samples,’’ Chief Secretary Reddy said.
“We are also conducting a survey to identify symptomatic cases irrespective of travel history, vulnerable people like those aged above 60 or those suffering from co-morbidities, doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who might have been exposed, and others. Medical officers have suggested conducting tests on 1,800 to 2000 among them and that will be conducted on Wednesday. Approximately 5,000 people have already been identified and the testing process for all these people has started. Moreover, 6,170 members identified in the fever survey conducted across the state have been kept under home isolation and treated,’’ Dr Reddy said.
Information and Public Relations Minister Perni Venkataramaiah said as of now four hospitals exclusively for COVID-19 are functional in the state. There are three batches of staff and each batch is working in three shifts. After a week's service, one batch goes for 14-day quarantine =and the second batch takes charge. This is followed by the third batch in the third week. By the time the third batch completes the week, the first batch is back from quarantine and ready to take charge. Moreover, frontline workers have been given a prophylactic dose to secure them from coronavirus infection.
Dr Reddy also informed that about 20 lakh tablets of hydroxychloroquine and 14 lakhs tablets of Azithromycin are available in the state. About 640 specialist doctors, 792 house surgeons, 1152 nursing and paramedical staff were employed at the four COVID-19 hospitals. 546 specialist doctors, 546 PGs, 273 house surgeons, and 546 nursing staff were employed across the COVID hospitals in districts, he added,.
TB test for suspects
The AP government is also experimenting with the equipment used for testing of tuberculosis. Five Covid-19 positive patients and five negative patients were tested and the results were accurate. Therefore, a two-step testing process will be used now in some cases.
``Coronavirus suspects will be tested using the tuberculosis equipment, if the result is negative, there will be no further process but if the results end up being positive, just to confirm once again, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test will also be conducted to ascertain Covid-19 case. This will help us increase our testing capabilities immensely,’’ Minister Venkataramaiah said.
Officials said ICMR has approved TruNat diagnostic tests for TB testing can also be used for COVID-19. About 240 TruNat centers are available across the state which can conduct 3,000 tests per day. ‘’
Total positive cases 304
The total number of positive cases in AP rose to 304 on Tuesday with one new case being reported. Of the total number of cases, 280 are Jamaat attendees and their primary and secondary contacts.
Officials said 1042 persons who attended the Tablighi Jamaat meeting at Nizamuddin in Delhi have been identified, and 997 persons have been tested. Contact tracing teams have traced 3089 contacts of the Jamaat returnees. All the 28,622 foreign returnees have completed their 14-day quarantine and are being released.