Private hospitals reject Kerala govt package for COVID-19 treatment

Thiruvananthapuram: Private hospital managements in the state have rejected the reimbursement package announced by the Kerala government for COVID-19 treatment at their facilities.

The government had prepared the package after including it in the Karunya Arogya Suraksha Paddhati (KASP), a public healthcare scheme.

The rates fixed for private hospitals were: Rs 750 for general ward; Rs 1,250 for wards with oxygen support; Rs 1,500 for ICU and Rs 2,000 for ventilator support. The government also capped the maximum COVID-19 treatment amount at Rs 1 lakh.

However, the managements informed the government that they cannot accept the package due to the ‘meagre’ amounts.

Private hospitals managements had proposed Rs 2,700 for general ward; Rs 3,500 for wards with oxygen support; Rs 6,500 for ICU; and Rs 11,000 for ventilator support for COVID-19 cases admitted in their institutions.

The hospital managements also rejected the provision on capping the maximum amount at Rs 1 lakh.

Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra governments had announced reimbursement packages with higher rates, the private hospital representatives pointed out during a meeting with the senior officials of the state health department.

Private hospitals are also being drafted for COVID-19 treatment due to the spike in cases. They have already commenced treating COVID-19 patients. But the patients here have to pay the bill amount fixed by the hospitals.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that talks are being held with the private hospitals for COVID-19 treatment.

"The rates have to be made uniform when private hospitals also come on board. COVID-19 treatment is mainly carried out at government hospitals. Those with other ailments are likely to be moved to the private hospitals. The target is to ensure the cooperation of private hospitals in all facets of the treatment. A final decision will be taken in the talks led by the Health Minister," the CM added.

CM urges caution amid spike

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Medics wearing PPE kits collect samples of people for COVID-19 test at a center, during the ongoing nationwide lockdown, in New Delhi, Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (PTI Photo)

CM Pinarayi also urged people to be cautious as the reports of the Disaster Management Authority and experts point at a further spike in cases.

“The infection has spread from just seven per cent of the overseas returnees. We could prevent disease transmission from the rest 93 per cent. This has been possible due to the efficacy of the home quarantine system.

"Even if we continue all the measures without any glitch, the number of patients will increase by August end, as per the estimates of the Disaster Management Authority. If we are not alert enough, then the number will further increase. Therefore, the police have been directed to strictly implement the preventive measures. Vehicle traffic will be regulated after 9pm," Pinarayi explained.

"Curbs have been eased only for essential services. The police will take strict action against those riding two-wheelers without masks and helmets. People will not be allowed to crowd around in shops, markets and other areas. All establishments will have to be disinfected," he added.

Alternative plans ready

The CM also said that the government has prepared alternative plans to ensure COVID-19 treatment in response to rise in cases.

As per Plan A, 29 COVID hospitals have been started across all districts along with 29 COVID first-line treatment centres. The facilities of private hospitals will also be used. A total of 8,537 beds, 872 ICU beds and 482 ventilators has been set up at these 29 COVID hospitals.

About 479 patients are undergoing treatment at these hospitals and first-line treatment centres with a total capacity of 3,180 beds.

Facilities of select hospitals will be used as the number of patients increase. Also, second-tier COVID-19 hospitals will also be included.

Also, 15,975 beds have been set up at 171 COVID first-line treatment centres.

'COVID-negative certificate not required'

In response to a petition in the Kerala High Court, the central and state governments have conveyed that the provision seeking for COVID-free certificates from the expatriates before boarding chartered flights to Kerala, has been withdrawn.

The state government appraised the court said that it has issued orders that a PPE kit would suffice instead of COVID-19 tests.

Both the government counsels said that the plea was irrelevant in the current scenario.

This was in response to a plea filed at the court by Reji Thazhamon, a native of Pathanamthitta and a Congress activist.

20 of the 22 deceased had other ailments: CM

Stressing that comorbidity likely proved fatal, CM Pinarayi also said that 20 of the 22 people, who succumbed to COVID-19 in the state, had other serious ailments.

While 109 per 10 lakh people have been infected in Kerala, the corresponding nationwide figure is at 362, he noted.

While the death rate in Kerala is 0.6 per cent, India’s fatality rate is at 3.1 per cent. The sample positivity rate in Kerala is at 1.8 per cent, while it is 6.2 per cent across the nation.

The CM said that all countries were trying to limit the figures below two per cent.

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