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COVID-19: CSOs write to CM Biren, recommend steps to curb spread of virus, lower deaths


The CSOs recommendations included steps to be taken at vaccination sites, setting up temporary hospitals, bringing in reserved police forces, capping hospital fees, amongst others.

TFM Desk 

A group of CSOs has written a letter to Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh, listing several recommendations to curb the spread of the virus and also to curb the number of deaths occurring in the state due to COVID-19.

The recommendations by the CSOs — Kihom, Girl Up Khonjel, Girl Up Manipur, Go Green Group, Mingsel Foundation, Paomi Post, and Ya_All Northeast, range from setting up of temporary hospitals to 24×7 Helpdesk for all hospitals. 

The CSOs said that these measures are “imperative and extremely necessary” that can be taken up in order to curb the spread of the virus and also to curb the number of deaths occurring in the state. 

Vaccination sites: 

The CSOs urged the government to make arrangements for vaccination sites to be located in open spaces wherever possible instead of closed rooms and buildings of hospitals and health centers. It also requested the government to increase vaccination sites by utilising local volunteers in localities so that we can prevent overcrowding and speed up the vaccination drive. 

There are many reports of people getting infected while coming for vaccination and thus, due to the fear of infection at vaccination sites, many are discouraged to get vaccinated, it stated. 

Following the “Three C’s” that is to be avoided, given by the WHO — Crowded places, Close-contact settings and Confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilations, it is clear that the chances of getting infected in the outdoor settings to the chances of getting infected in the indoor settings is very low. 

The CSOs also contended that locating vaccination sites at the outdoors will be beneficial in three ways: 

  • It will reduce the chances of people getting infected by the virus at vaccination centers. 
  • It will also provide more space for more patients to be admitted to the hospitals as the spaces previously used for vaccination can be utilized for admitting patients. 
  • It will encourage more people to come for vaccination. 

Setting up Temporary or Field hospitals:  

Stating that the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the state is increasing at an alarming rate along with the number of deaths from the virus increasing steadily, the CSOs said that they, at any cost, do not want to face what other states and territories such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra, amongst others are facing. 

Some experts are also predicting the North-eastern region of the country to be the next hotspot for the COVID-19 crisis. In view of the future that is going to unfold, it is an urgent need of the hour that we take up necessary steps to prevent such misfortune from unfolding, it stated. 

Thus, setting up of temporary hospitals by utilising hostels, rents and boarding schools which remain unused due to the pandemic would be a welcome step. This will be beneficial in two ways: 

  • There will be more beds for patients in need and will get the necessary treatments done in time, thus preventing more deaths.  
  • There are many non-covid patients suffering from other comorbidities who need regular checkup and treatments. Segregating covid and non-covid patients not just in terms of wards and buildings in the same hospitals but in different hospitals and health centers will help save more lives. As most of the time, it is people with other comorbidities who are getting severely affected by the virus, ensuring tighter security from the virus (with the virus being declared as airborne) is extremely necessary in hospitals where such patients come for regular treatments.  

Increase the number of ICU beds, Oxygen Supply and Ventilators: 

The CSOs maintained that the most serious grievances many patients are facing right now is the non-availability of ICU beds, shortage of oxygen supply and ventilators. They said that they have come across many lives lost to COVID-19 that could have been saved had there been enough ICU beds and ventilators. Shortage of Oxygen cylinders is also a grievous concern. 

Our ground analysis suggests that a patient’s health often deteriorates while waiting for Oxygen supplies, specifically the ones in home isolation, the CSOs said and urged the government to procure and provide more ICU beds, Oxygen cylinders and ventilators to the hospitals at the earliest. 

The CSOs also proposed for a regular inspection of the available ICU beds as well and installation of ventilators which are in stock as soon as possible.  

Bringing in the Reserved Police Forces: 

Stating that the state is witnessing a lack of human resources in fighting the pandemic, the CSOs said that it would consider that recruiting Reserved Police forces will be of great help. The United States, despite having a surge of COVID cases, were able to curb the virus in a short time because they used the US military to execute their plans. 

The CSOs also contended that using the Armed Forces in the state would welcome several criticisms, “which is why we suggest the use of Reserved Police Forces to deal with the pandemic effectively in a shorter time”. 

It further said that they can either set up field hospitals for COVID treatments or for vaccinations to effectively fight the pandemic. Stating that we should understand that we are facing a humanitarian battle against the virus, the CSOs maintained that recruiting people who are already well trained and equipped in dealing with such situations, would be of great help.  

Capping Hospital fees and other medical requirements: 

Following the striction issued by the Kerala High Court, the Kerala Government has already imposed an order to cap the fees of Private Hospitals like bed charges, ICU charges, etc. and laid price restrictions on necessary medicines. Taking the Kerala model as an example, the CSOs proposed that the Manipur Government also imposes price caps on private hospitals and other medical requirements like Oxygen cylinders, especially the ones used in home isolation. 

“The poverty rate in Manipur is pretty high and not everyone can afford the fees charged by private hospitals and private enterprises supplying medical equipment. With the government hospitals leaving no empty beds, people have to rely on private hospitals which can cost a fortune. The government, considering such dire situations, must cap the private hospital fees and other medical resources like prices of medicines, price rate of Oxygen cylinders by private enterprises, RT-PCR testing (making it readily accessible to the public) etc.”

Maintaining that the unavailability of ambulance services in time is also one of the main concerns, the CSOs also look into the matter as “not many have the luxury to own or arrange a private vehicle, due to which, people coming to hospitals for treatment specially coming from other places besides Imphal are having to pay heavy prices which is not called for”. 

Aid for People with Disabilities:  

The CSOs proposed that the government introduce a helpline specially for the people with disabilities. 

People with disabilities often have to rely on their caretakers and their family members. However, if their caretakers or kin are affected by COVID-19 they become helpless and will not be able to perform their ordinary avocations or even go to vaccination centers. Such a situation calls for special action by the government to help the people with disabilities whose caretaker or family members are affected by the virus, it added. 

24×7 Helpdesk for all hospitals  

The CSOs asserted that the government must make sure that all the government hospitals: RIMS, JNIMS and District Hospitals have a helpline that functions 24×7 so that the patient and/or their attendants can reach out to them and inquire about bed availability and other facilities easily instead of wasting precious time going to and from their home, hospitals and covid care centers. 

The CSOs said that the COVID control rooms don’t have updated contact numbers of government hospitals.

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