In Gurugram, a Covid mock exercise highlighted the improvement in health infra with 6,000 beds and 26 oxygen units.

GURUGRAM: In inspections across the city, health department officials on Tuesday took stock of how prepared hospitals and medical facilities were in case NCR was to see a surge of Covid-19 infections.Their findings indicate health infrastructure has taken large strides since the second wave of infections in early 2021, when hospitals in India were overcome by a deluge of patients, many of whom struggled to get medical oxygen, life-saving drugs and hospital beds.According to data collated by the department on Tuesday, Gurugram — which didn’t have any oxygen producing PSA plant — now has 26, of which 17 are in private hospitals and the remaining at government facilities. The facilities can now convert ambient air into medical-grade oxygen within their premises.All the city hospitals used to get liquid oxygen from tankers in Rajasthan and Gujarat until the second wave. In the outbreak between March and June last year, many hospitals were forced to send SOS alarms as they were fast running out of medical oxygen. Gurugram has also scaled up the number of hospital beds, and those equipped with ventilators. A total of 71 hospitals in the city now have 5,899 beds, of which almost a quarter (1,402) is ICU beds without ventilators. Nearly 1,300 others — more than double since last year — have attached ventilators.Till the second wave, Gurugram’s total bed count was 3,758, including 294 ICU beds without ventilators, and another 576 with ventilators.Similarly, the city now has 18 laboratories that can test 4,500 to 5,000 samples for Covid-19 in a day. Earlier, it had the capacity to carry out just 300-odd tests a day. The number of ambulances at government facilities is also up to 26, from 20 before the pandemic.“We are prepared to deal with any crisis situation. The hospitals are well equipped with oxygen supply. We have seven ECMO machines (used in cases of heart and respiratory failure), 12 liquid oxygen tanks, and 3,427 oxygen supported beds across all hospitals,” said Dr Virender Yadav, district chief medical officer.When asked if the drill threw up any areas that needed improvements, the CMO said some hospitals had still not opened their “flu corners”—sections earmarked for patients with Covid-like symptoms—to avoid spreading the infection within a hospital.“All hospitals have been directed to start their flu corners, which are essential for screening suspected Covid-19 cases. They have been told to test their medical staff periodically to ensure that hospitals do not turn into hotspots,” Yadav said.Gurugram deputy commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav, who visited three hospitals with the CMO on Tuesday, said “everything was satisfactory” and there won’t be a “dearth of oxygen if there was a crisis” in the future. Tuesday’s drill was carried out amidst concerns that China’s worst Covid-19 outbreak – attributed largely to the spread of BF.7 subvariant of Omicron – could affect other parts of the world as well.Experts urged caution, but pointed out that India’s immunity profile from vaccination, previous infections and a gradual withdrawal of restrictions makes it a very different population sample. In contrast, they say, China had been following a “zero-Covid policy” until a few weeks back and its population had little exposure to living with the virus.“Although the positivity rate of infections is less than 0.01% at present, hospital preparedness was assessed in Gurugram. We need to encourage people to take their booster doses to maintain the current immunity,” the deputy commissioner said.On average, Gurugram is recording one to two new cases of Covid-19 daily. But just 20% (4,91,332) of the people eligible to take the booster shot (third vaccination shot) have gotten the dose. Hospitals, too, expressed confidence about their preparedness. “We have adequate staff and equipment even though a surge in cases is highly unlikely,” said Dr Shuchin Bajaj, founder director of the Ujala Cygnus Group of hospitals.“All staff are wearing masks. Isolation wards for patients have been set up and all drugs required for Covid treatment have been arranged. We’ve also created slots for online consultation with doctors, the flu corner is running, and our PSA plant is functioning,” said Arpita Mukherjee, senior vice-president, Max Hospital in Gurugram.At Delhi’s Lok Nayak Hospital, a counter has been set near the emergency department for Covid testing. The medical staff escorted mock patients for check-ups and based on the severity of symptoms, the patients were taken to green, yellow or red wards. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia also reviewed the operational readiness of the hospital.

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