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SHILLONG: As the state government’s COVID combat plans are getting reformatted in anticipation of the peak due next month doctors in referral hospitals have their own takes.
Talking to this reporter on Sunday, they made a few suggestions without being quoted. Firstly, they pointed out, there are only 10 COVID ICU beds in Shillong, six in NEIGRIHMS and four in Nazareth Hospital. The Shillong Civil Hospital it is learnt does not do incubation and sends serious patients to NEIGRIHMS.
At the moment only three hospitals are designated for COVID treatment. With the rise in the number of cases, private hospitals may be asked to pitch in. Several states have fixed hospitalisation charges across different categories. This matter has not engaged the minds of the state government as yet.
Doctors also felt that the rapid Antigen Test (RAT) at the entry points to the state should now be charged from those from other states entering Meghalaya for work and business purposes. The RAT testing kit costs roughly Rs 1700 per person. The kit is imported from South Korea. The CB-NAT testing kit is costlier at roughly Rs 3000 per person. This, doctors feel, would put a huge financial burden on the state government and this might not be sustainable when caseloads begin to grow exponentially.
Another problem, they pointed out, faced by referral hospitals like NEIGRIHMS was that in several cases they found the patient referred from other states to the Institute to be negative, while the attendants test COVID positive. This too places a burden on NEIGRIHMS which in any case gets the most complicated COVID cases from across the state.
On the need to pay for RAT tests, senior officials from the Health Department said that the government is exercising its mind on this issue.
Why say ‘no’ to plasma bank?
In another related development, the Opposition Congress questioned the NPP-led MDA Government for its decision not to set up the plasma bank.
“It is shocking to learn that the state government is not keen to start the plasma bank. It think it is just ridiculous,” senior Congress leader, Ampareen Lyngdoh told reporters recently.
According to her, the state government cannot wash its hands off this issue when such facilities are required, especially when there is a spike in the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the state.
“If plasma treatment is the only treatment that will reduce COVID fatalities, government cannot say that we are not keen in starting plasma banks. Do we want to say that only the rich and the affluent will be able to access such facilities,” the senior Congress leader who is also the MLA of the party stated.
Ampareen who is also the chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Women Empowerment said that the committee will be following the issues concerning COVID-19 to help put in an alert system in the state to prepare themselves in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.