Assam strengthens health care infrastructure as COVID-19 cases surge

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Guwahati, May 21 (PTI) To deal with the second wave of the pandemic, Assam is continuously increasing the number of oxygen-supported beds, and it also has enough stock of Remdesivir vials, state Health Minister Kesab Mahanta said on Friday.

Addressing a press conference here, Mahanta said, there are about 13,863 beds for treatment of coronavirus patients in government hospitals and COVID-19 Care Centres (CCCs), including 787 ICU beds, 11,154 isolation beds, and 1,922 oxygen-supported beds, Mahanta said.

Highlighting that 2,520 isolation beds are already functional in Greater Guwahati, the minister said, CCCs with approximately 3,000 beds are being set up at the Indian Institute of Hotel Management (438 beds), Assam Engineering College (1,000), Delhi Public School (869) and Girijanand Institute (704).

These new CCCs will be made operational in the next seven days.

Arrangements for another 200 ICU beds will be made in Gauhati Medical College Hospital car parking area, 56 within the GMCH and 24 in Kalapahar, the minister added.

Additional oxygen-supported beds have been created in Moinakhurung (70 beds), Jagiroad old HPC (60 beds), Haryana Bhawan (200), and Maheswari Bhawan 200.

Construction of a 300 bed COVID Hospital by the DRDO at Sarusajai here is underway and it is expected to be functional by the first week of June, Mahanta informed.

Noting that mandatory institutional isolation of all COVID-19 patients in the 50+ age group has started, he said, 2,245 such patients had been kept in the facilities till Thursday.

On the subject of Remdesivir, an experimental investigational drug sometimes used to treat COVID-19, the health minister said the state is procuring Remdesivir injections from various sources and the state has a stock of over 16,000 vials.

'With the current stock, we can manage for about 10 days.

'We have provided 8,126 vials of Remdesivir to private hospitals at the government rate of Rs 1,568, per dose, which is almost Rs 1,000 less than market rate,' Mahanta said.

Informing that the government also has a limited stock of Tocilizumab injections, which is being used judiciously, he said efforts to procure 2-DG anti-viral drug, developed by DRDO, has been initiated by the state government.

On the availability of medical oxygen, the minister said though the current utilisation of the live-saving gas is 80 MT per day against its daily production at about 70 MT, 30-45 MT of medical oxygen is being brought from outside Assam daily.

'We are keeping sufficient stock as well. Once we keep the cases under control, there will be no shortage of oxygen in the state,' Mahanta said.

The state has 13 medical oxygen plants, including three at GMCH, two each in Jorhat, Silchar, and Assam Medical College and Hospitals, one each at Barpeta, Tezpur, and Diphu MCHs, besides Mohendra Mohan Choudhary Civiil Hospital in Guwahati.

Through the central government, Assam has received from the UK a modern oxygen generating plant to be set up in Chirang district and 240 oxygen cylinders, 180 oxygen concentrators from the US government, 290 oxygen BiPAP machines from Australia, 30 ventilators from Canada, and four defibrillators from Myanmar. PTI ESB MM MM