MP govt orders closure of COVID centres; Cong questions logic

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(Eds: Adding quotes of a health official on the number of COVID care centres) Bhopal, Jan 3 (PTI) The Madhya Pradesh government has ordered closure of all COVID care centres in the state, except those in Bhopal, from January 1 in view of the low occupancy of beds, as per an official order made available on Sunday.

This decision evoked a sharp reaction from the opposition Congress, with its state unit president Kamal Nath questioning the rationale behind the order.

Defending the decision, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the pandemic is under control in the state and there is no justification to keep the COVID care centres open 'just for the sake of keeping them open'.

As per the state government order dated December 31, 2020 and directed to district collectors and health authorities, a policy decision has been taken to shut the COVID Care centres from the first day of New Year due to low occupancy of beds.

These centres were set up across the state for lodging COVID-19 patients.

The order also stated that in the case of rise of infected patients, health authorities can reopen these centres with prior permission of the state government.

When asked about the exact number of the COVID care centres which are now closed, Veena Sinha, Additional Director (Health), Madhya Pradesh, told PTI that these centres were opened as per need.

'There is no fixed number. We used to open these centres depending upon the pandemic situation in districts.

When the pandemic was at its peak, the number of these centres, which were opened in schools in some instances, had reached 225 across the state,' she said.

She said currently no patient or suspected COVID-19 case remained admitted at these centres, following which the decision was taken to shut them.

'Anyway COVID-19 patients are getting treatment at hospitals and are also home isolated,' Sinha added.

Meanwhile, Nath tweeted: 'Deaths due to coronavirus continuing in the state. The statistics of infection is increasing daily. Even the assembly session was cancelled due to fear of coronavirus and the Shivraj government closed all COVID care centres in the state except Bhopal?' Hitting back, CM Chouhan said, if required, these COVID care centres will be opened again.

'Does Kamal Nath want COVID centres to remain open always? The COVID-19 situation is fully under control in the state. Arrangements are already in place for providing adequate treatment (to patients). Home isolation is also provided.

'If needed, these COVID care centres will be opened again, but there is no justification to keep them open for the sake of keeping them open,' Chouhan said in a statement.

As on January 2, the total number of coronavirus positive cases in Madhya Pradesh stood at 2,43,302 including 3,627 fatalities, as per health officials. PTI ADU LAL NSK NSK