Karnataka is modernizing its infrastructure, including oxygen generation units and systems, in preparation for an expected third wave, and is also increasing the number of Covid beds, says the responsible Covid Task Force and Deputy Prime Minister Dr
Karnataka is one of the countries most severely affected by the pandemic, with the second highest number of cases of over 25 lakh cases and the second highest death toll of almost 33,000 since the pandemic began.
“The virus spread very quickly in this second wave, so we just didn’t have enough time to react – most states didn’t. The pressure on the intensive care units and the health infrastructure was enormous. In preparation for a possible third wave, we are already expanding the infrastructure so that such a situation does not repeat itself, ”says Ashwath Narayan.
The government of Karnataka recently set up a 13-person committee headed by renowned cardiac surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty deployed to devise a plan to combat the third wave. But even before the committee comes up with such a plan, the state government is already expanding its oxygen supply and intensive care units and oxygen beds in the state, focusing on rural areas that the deputy director said has been hardest hit.
The state government is pursuing the increased oxygen demand through a three-pronged strategy – increasing the supply of liquid medical oxygen (LMO), scaling the localized generation capacity through oxygen generators, and large-scale procurement of concentrators and cylinders.
While the Indian government has increased the oxygen allocation for Karnataka from 1015 MT to 1200 MT, Karnataka has received an additional 40 tons of oxygen from Bahrain and a further 319 tons of oxygen from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. “Another 1062.14 by a train. Actions are being taken to increase the state’s oxygen production capacity, which will help us be prepared for a possible third wave. We are setting up 127 oxygen generation units in the hospitals of the medical school, the district hospitals and the Taluka hospitals, ”says Dr. Ashwath Narayan.
This includes 62 oxygen generation units that are being set up with funds from the state government, 28 allocated by the center, 24 by NHAI, 11 received as part of CSR and two from abroad.
“To reduce the burden of oxygen demand in districts and taluks across the state, we are procuring up to 10,000 oxygen cylinders. We have already received 730 oxygen bottles in the last 15-20 days. 380 were provided by the Indian government and 350 from abroad. These bottles were allocated to the needy districts, ”he added.
The state government has decided to build 22 oxygen generation facilities in 18 medical institutes across the states by providing grants to private hospitals at medical colleges to increase the number of oxygen beds and to set up oxygen generation units.
As of March 2020, the Karnataka Ministry of Health had 1970 oxygenated beds, 444 intensive care units and 610 intensive care units with ventilators. The infrastructure has so far been expanded and includes more than 24,000 oxygen beds, 1,145 intensive care beds, 2,058 ventilated beds and 1,248 beds with HFNCs. Likewise, in the Department of Medical Education, the number of oxygen beds has increased from 4,700 to 9,405. The number of ventilated beds from 341 to 646 and the number of HFNCs from 15 to 570. The state government has 200 ventilators for private hospitals and is in the process of procuring more.
While the government in Bangalore is expanding the infrastructure on a war basis, this time its focus is on rural areas.
“We have decided not to allow the domestic isolation of COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic and those with mild symptoms in rural areas and urban slums. Admission to the Covid Care Center (CCC) is now mandatory for these patients. Rural hostels are being converted to CCCs, ” said Dr. Ashwath Narayan.
In the 207 municipal health centers, each with 30 beds, all beds are converted into oxygen-rich beds. Each CHC will have 5 intensive care beds and 5 HDU beds. 50 intensive care beds, including 15 ventilators and six cots, are provided in Taluk hospitals. Each of the district centers that do not have a medical college will now have 100 beds in the intensive care unit. Physical triage is made mandatory for hospitalization in order to use resources wisely. The government will procure 1,000 DRDO-developed oxygen supply regulators and set up oxygen filling facilities in nine districts.
“We have also mandated that medical students, including post graduate students, be sent to rural areas for treatment. We don’t think we will run out of work. In fact, we decided that each PHC will have two doctors in place of the prescribed one, ”he added.