As the festive season approaches, the worries of infection spike are also gripping the government of West Bengal which is trying to boost the health infrastructure in the state ahead of the festivities.
2,500 nurses are being recruited on emergency service, the price of Covid tests in private labs has been reduced, private doctors have been removed from the jurisdiction of the state clinical establishment regulatory act and leaves of frontline staff and emergency workers have been cancelled.
The West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission said that Rs 3,000 can be charged maximum by ambulances of private hospitals to move patients within the city, after the government wrote to the commission to see if it was possible to tone down the rates of private ambulances.
Rs 500 every hour for oxygen, Rs 25/km for AC ambulances, Rs 20 for ordinary ones and Rs 300 for sanitisation and PPE can be charged.
On June 26, the Bengal government had provided a cap of Rs 2,250 for Covid testing in private laboratories. Now it has been cut down to Rs 1,500. Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay said after a meeting, “The decision was taken in the larger public interest ahead of the Pujas.”
Since the testing price was cut down in June, rates of Viral Transport Medium, RT-PCR kits and RNA extraction kits have also reduced. Because of these, the testing price could be reduced again. Any allegations of overcharging can lead to strict action under the epidemic diseases and clinical establishment acts.
Alok Roy, chairperson of Medica Superspeciality Hospital said, “Considering the emergency, we are ready to give it a shot. But one must remember that we must buy the testing kit for Rs 750, which is just the base cost. Add the overheads and the final cost is higher. It would be tight.”
The CS said, “Several requests were made to the CM to empower individual private practitioners. Considering their contribution to health, it has been decided to keep them out of the purview of the act.”
A senior doctor, part of the state’s Covid experts’ team, said, “Private practitioners are the first responders. Hospitalisation may not be always possible.”
The CS added that MR Bangur hospital saw an increase in its Covid beds, which now has 1,247 beds.