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Telangana geared up to tackle third wave

Hyderabad, Jan 5 (IANS) After learning the lessons from first and second waves of Covid-19 pandemic, the health authorities in Telangana have beefed up infrastructure in hospitals and are fully geared up to tackle a third wave which looks imminent.

From ensuring availability of adequate number of testing kits, and home treatment kits for those testing positive to keeping hospitals beds ready, ramping up oxygen generation and stocking up the medicines, the Health Department has taken several steps to effectively deal with the situation.

With the state witnessing a five-fold jump in Covid-19 cases during last few days, the Health Department has sounded an alert and asked the officials in all 33 districts to be prepared to deal with any contingency.

As it is hoped that majority of those testing positive for Covid may not require hospitalisation, the health authorities have readied about 20 lakh home treatment kits. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Monday directed the Health Department to ensure availability of one lakh home treatment kits.

"The Health Department has made all the arrangements to deal with the situation. While we are fully geared up to tackle any contingency, we are urging people to follow the basic norms to protect themselves and thus cooperate in checking the spread," said Director of Public Health and Family Welfare Dr G. Srinivasa Rao.

The state on Tuesday reported 1,052 cases. This was after more than six months that the state reported over 1,000 cases in a single day. The last time it was reported was on June 26, 2021 when the second wave was on decline.

Telangana has also reported 94 Omicron cases so far. However, the officials were not worried on this count as the treatment of new variant is not different.

The state has a total of 54,810 beds in 1,327 hospitals - 112 government hospitals and 1,215 private. The government hospitals have 15,339 beds while there are 40,471 beds in private hospitals. Out of total beds, 54,563 are vacant.

The data also shows that in government hospitals, there are 2,143 ICU beds while in private hospitals, the number stands at 9,744. The number of oxygen beds in government-run hospitals is 7,670 while private hospitals have 14,215 oxygen beds. The remaining 22,038 beds in both the categories are regular beds.

Since the second wave had led to serious shortage of oxygen across the country, the state authorities took series of steps to enhance oxygen infrastructure.

Out of 27,996 beds in government hospitals, 25,390 are converted into oxygen beds so far. The Chief Minister has already directed the Health Department to convert the remaining beds into oxygen beds too.

The Health Department also earmarked 5,200 paediatric oxygen beds in different government hospitals so far for Covid. It also created 792 additional beds in six hospitals in Hyderabad with oxygen facility.

The oxygen generation capacity has been increased in the state from 135 tonnes per day to 327 tonnes per day and there are plans to increase this further to 500 tonnes per day.

All 50 PSA oxygen generation plants sanctioned under PM CARES have been commissioned. Another 26 PSA oxygen generation plants were commissioned under Corporate Social Responsibility.

Following direction of the state government, 39 PSA plants were also commissioned in private hospitals so far.

The officials arranged 27 ISO containers of 540 tonnes capacity for transportation of liquid oxygen.

The stock position of key drugs and consumables also shows that the state has 37.79 lakh Rapid Antigen Test kits and 6.24 lakh RT-PCR kits. The government has asked the department to take steps to increase the total number of kits to two crore. The state currently has 39.47 lakh N95 masks, 8.39 lakh PPE kits, and 140.99 lakh 3-ply masks.

Officials say the current situation is different from the earlier wave. This time, the department is battling on various fronts. It's not only focusing on availability of man power and medicines but is also continuing the emphasis on vaccination.

After achieving the 100 per cent vaccination of first dose, the Health Department in coordination with Municipal Administration, Panchayat Raj and other departments have stepped up efforts to achieve the target for second dose coverage.

Official statics show that 70 per cent of the total 2.78 crore beneficiaries have taken the second dose. There are still 24.84 lakh people who are due for second dose.

The health workers are going door to door to create awareness and convince those due for second dose to come forward.

The state has sufficient stocks of Covid vaccines available. According to officials over 32.36 lakh doses were available with cold chain point, district vaccine stores, and state stores as on January 5.

The vaccination for children in the age group of 15-17 was also progressing smoothly. Out of 18.41 lakh children in this group, 1,87,538 (10 per cent) were covered in the first three days.