Bengal govt to set up 'safe homes' in schools to isolate COVID patients

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Kolkata, May 18 (PTI) The West Bengal government will set up 'safe homes' for COVID-19 patients in schools in several districts which have been witnessing a spurt in coronavirus cases, an education department official said on Tuesday.

The department has asked administrations of many districts to turn the government-aided schools into 'safe homes' with an adequate number of beds, requisite supply of oxygen and other paraphernalia in line with COVID-19 protocols, he said.

The state government came up with the concept of 'safe homes' to isolate mostly asymptomatic coronavirus-positive patients to free up hospital beds.

'Letters have already been sent to DMs of several districts for creating as many safe homes in school buildings as possible,' the official told PTI.

Such isolation facilities will be set up in school buildings that have the infrastructure to accommodate basic medical facilities for COVID patients, he said.

Apart from Kolkata, a few districts such as North and South 24 Parganas, Hooghly and Howrah will get these facilities in schools on a priority basis as the spurt in coronavirus cases has been noticed in these areas, he said.

Paschim Bardhaman, Nadia, Purbo Medinipur and Birbhum are also among the districts where 'safe homes' will be set up in the government-aided schools.

School buildings will have to be sanitised thoroughly before converting them into such isolation facilities as premises of many educational institutes were used as polling booths in the recently-concluded elections in the state, he said.

Several schools were also used as camps for central forces during the eight-phased polls.

'The DMs concerned will identify school buildings to set up safe homes,' the official said.

Amid a raging second wave of COVID-19, schools have been remained closed in the state.

West Bengal on Monday registered 147 COVID-19 fatalities pushing the death toll to 13,431, a health department bulletin said.

The state reported 19,003 fresh coronavirus infections, which took the tally to 11,52,433, it added.

Meanwhile, Para Teachers' Unity Manch urged the government to engage its members to run the upcoming 'safe homes' in schools.

'We welcome the decision to have safe homes in school buildings. We also request the government to provide training and engage us to run these facilities in educational institutes,' said Bhagirath Ghosh, joint convenor of the organisation.

Para teachers are contractual staffers in government- aided primary and upper primary schools in the state. PTI SUS BDC BDC

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