VIJAYAWADA: By just a call to the 104 call centre, one can get any information related to Covid-19, be it regarding testing facilities, hospitals or just advice from health experts.“Today, 104 call centre has emerged as a one-stop solution for all Covid-19 related issues. Its role has become even more important in view of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the state,” said Babu Ahmed, senior IAS officer and in-charge of the service.
Though the helpline is meant to provide healthcare alerts, it has become the defacto lifesaver emergency helpline in Andhra Pradesh. With the infections spreading faster than ever before, the service is flooded by 10,000 calls every day on an average. Babu Ahmed said the call centre is working round-the-clock in three shifts. The morning and evening shifts are attended by 60 people, and the night shift by 30.
“We basically get three types of inquiries: information pertaining to Covid-19, medical advice, and the third is action-oriented when people seek help in hospitalisation, testing, etc.,” he explained. The 104 call centre is virtually connected to 1,400 doctors who lend their service when the calls are re-routed to them. Further, the call centre is connected to all districts, and the sub-centre in each district also works round-the-clock with a staff pattern of 10-10-5. They are personally monitored by district collectors and joint collectors.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is emphasising the need for strengthening the helpline in view of the increasing number of infections in the state, has directed the officials manning the facility to offer quick response and solution, be it regarding bed, testing or treatment, within three hours. “We are striving to achieve the target set by the Chief Minister,” Babu Ahmad said.
Expecting a further increase in the volume of the calls due to the rising cases of Covid, the IAS officer said all efforts are underway to cut down the call duration from the present four minutes to three minutes so that more callers can be accommodated. The call centre in-charge added the call centre was able to function effectively due to the coordinated efforts of HCL, BSNL, Health IT Infral, various government departments, and most importantly staff working there.