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Andhra Pradesh keeping resources ready to fight possible Omicron spike

Hospitals to be equipped with 3,942 O2 beds in addition to existing 14,346; 144 oxygen plants to start functioning by January 1st week; vaccination for minors to begin

Published: 01st January 2022 10:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st January 2022 10:24 AM   |  A+A-

Hospital beds

Representational image (Photo| EPS)

By Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: The state health department is now focussed on containing the Omicron variant of coronavirus though Andhra Pradesh has reported fewer cases of the new variant than other states.

The foremost strategy adopted by the government is to screen each and every international traveller arriving in the state, irrespective of whether they are from high-risk countries or not. The plan paid dividends as returnees from countries that were not categorised as high-risk have also tested positive. 

At the same time, hospital infrastructure is being geared up in view of the possible third wave, where children are expected to be at a higher risk. The state, which saw a shortage of beds in hospitals and oxygen supply, took measures to address the issue. After the bed strength was improved significantly, the focus is now on improving the health infrastructure over the next two years. 

According to the data available with the health department, as part of the preparations to face the possible third wave and now the Omicron threat, the number of beds, including ICUs and particularly those equipped with oxygen facility, is being enhanced in both government and private hospitals. 

The state has a total of 14,346 oxygen-equipped beds available, and will be adding another 3,942 shortly; it also has 6,191 ICU beds, which will be increased by 754, apart from 14,895 general beds, whose numbers are expected to go up by 446 soon.

Regarding the PSU oxygen plants, the state government is setting up more 144 units across the state. All are expected to be operational by January first week. Further, the private hospitals with a bed strength of 100 and over have been directed to set up oxygen plants. 

Also, large number of D-type oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators have been procured. During the second wave, many donated oxygen cylinders, medical equipment and medicines to the government to tackle the Covid pandemic.

In view of the Omicron threat, fever surveys are being conducted, and recently the 37th fever survey was taken up with focus on those who returned from abroad. 

The state reported its first Omicron case on December 12 after a 34-year-old Ireland-returnee tested positive for the new mutant in Vizianagaram. The second Omicron case emerged from Tirupati with a 39-year-old woman, who came back from Kenya, testing positive for Omicron. The third and fourth cases were from East Godavari and Visakhapatnam, while the fifth and sixth emerged from Prakasam and Anantapur. Later, 11 more Omicron infections emerged, of whom three patients contracted the virus from patients, taking the state’s aggregate to 17. 

According to the health department, this month, 42,156 international travellers reached Andhra Pradesh till Wednesday. Out of the total, 40,338 have been traced and 73 of them tested positive for Covid-19 in the RT-PCR test. Fourteen of their contacts also tested positive for Covid-19. Of the total 73 who tested positive for Covid-19, 23 had returned from USA, 12 from the UAE and six from the UK.

“Nearly 100 per cent first dose of Covid vaccination has been administered. The second dose vaccination coverage stands at 74 per cent. Now, arrangements are being made to administer vaccines to youths in the age group of 15 to 18 from January 3, and administering booster doses to health workers, frontline workers, and senior citizens from January 10,” a senior official from the health department said. 

The role of village and ward volunteers, along with ANMs and Asha workers, during fever surveys and vaccination drives proved valuable. In the recent review meetings on health, Chief Minister gave nod for filling the vacancies and a total of 14,818 different posts will be filled by the February end. Notifications for the same have been issued. 

Most importantly, revamping of government hospitals from PHCs to teaching hospitals has been taken up at a cost of Rs 16,225 crore. Besides, construction of 16 teaching hospitals is underway with an outlay of Rs 7,880 crore. When all the said infrastructure developments will be realised, the state’s position in the Good Governance Ranking, which was four in 2019-20, is expected to improve. 

Moreover, the concepts of village clinics and family doctors are expected to bring about a sea change in public health. 



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