In an attempt to better thwart the coronavirus outbreak in the state, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to take control of private hospitals and work in tandem with them. It has asked all private hospitals and medical colleges to be available at the orders of district collectors.
In a memo sent to all district collectors on Wednesday, the state government has directed that all private medical institutions will put their premises, resources and manpower at the disposal of the district collector as and when required.
The order says the government can use private infrastructure, such as isolation beds, wards, ICU premises, testing labs, mortuaries, medical equipment and manpower, for the purpose of emergency response and relief.
All specialists, doctors, nurses, and other medical and non-medical staff deployed in government and private hospitals will be utilised by the state and district disaster management authority, the order said.
The decisions were taken under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and the powers drawn under Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897.
"The collectors are to ensure that non-government and private institutions carry out their activites in an equitable and non-discriminatory manner,” the order read.
Andhra Pradesh saw a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases after a cluster of people from the state were found to have attended the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in South Delhi's Nizamuddin earlier this month.
According to officials from the health department, the state so far has identified about 864 people, which mostly includes people who travelled to Delhi and their contacts as well. Of this, 700-odd people have been tracked down as of Wednesday.
Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday released a medical bulletin saying 43 new positive cases have been detected in the state. According to sources in the health department, almost all of them have a travel history to Delhi's Nizamuddin congregation. The total number of cases in the state currently stands at 87.
In a high-level meeting on Monday, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had asked district collectors and other officials to add 5,000 more beds to the existing 16,723 at isolation centres as part of measures to tackle the pandemic.
The state has 2.8 lakh village volunteers and ASHA workers on the ground who are actively working to track cases, spread awareness and maintain surveillance.