The health department on Monday decided to conduct mock drills at all medical colleges, and district and subdivisional hospitals across Bengal for three days from Tuesday to test the state’s Covid-19 preparedness in view of rising cases of the infection in China and a few other countries.
The mock drills will be conducted at medical colleges, district hospitals and subdivisional hospitals on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Sources said the development came following a directive from the Union health ministry amid the threat of a new sub-variant of Omicron that hit several countries, including China, badly.
“We want to revisit Covid wards to check the readiness of human resources and infrastructure following an alert to a new variant of the virus. The mock drills will be conducted for three days from Tuesday. All heads of hospitals in districts and Calcutta have been asked to report to the state government and upload the data on the health department portal concerned,” said the director of health services, Siddhartha Niyogi.
Niyogi and other senior health department officials conducted a meeting with all district health officials on Monday afternoon to explain how the mock drills would be conducted and the process of uploading the report on the government portal.
The health officials said they had been asked at the meeting to ensure the readiness of human resources and infrastructure like pipeline oxygen supply, oxygen concentrator, electricity, life support system and ICU at those hospitals.
“It will just be like a mock drill conducted by the fire department. The doctors would be ready in PPE and act just like they would have to do to handle a serious Covid patient. The infrastructure would be checked in that way,” said a senior health official in Calcutta.
Senior health officials said though there was nothing to worry about a surge in the cases of a new variant of the Covid-19 virus in Bengal, they wanted to ensure that the state’s infrastructure was ready to battle any situation.
Bengal had reported only nine Covid cases on Sunday when 4,368 samples were tested. On Monday, three fresh infections were recorded. Currently, there are 51 active cases in the state.
The number has been limited to single digits since the first week of December.
Senior public health experts also said the people of Bengal should not worry as the number of cases was not alarming and there was not a single person affected by the new variant in the state yet.
“The people should not worry till the number of positive cases witnesses a steep rise here,” said a senior health official in Calcutta.
At present, most medical colleges have around 100 beds in Covid wards, while the district and subdivisional hospitals have 20 to 50 beds.
“We don’t need to increase beds for Covid patients at government hospitals right now as only a few persons need to get admitted. However, we have options to open covid wards at block-level hospitals or increase the number of beds at medical colleges or district hospitals in case of an emergency,” said a health official.
Health officials in multiple districts said after the number of Covid patients had gone down, they released several private hospitals that they took over during the first and second waves of the pandemic.