Amid rising coronavirus cases in India, the Union Health ministry has asked hospitals and medical education institutes to procure sufficient number of ventilators and high flow oxygen masks and advised them to decrease gatherings on their respective premises.
Stating that the medical infrastructure in the country needs to be prepared for any possible influx of patients, the ministry issued an advisory outlining interventions for indoor facilities, Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities and administrative issues.
According to the advisory, non-essential elective surgeries should be postponed.
The advisory said some beds should be kept apart for creating isolation facilities in public and private hospital and ensuring that stable patients are discharged as early as possible while adding that further new admissions (of stable patients) are also restricted.
It said all doctors, nurses and support staff in different specialities, including pre and para clinical departments, should be mobilized and trained in infection prevention and control practices.
"Hospitals must procure sufficient numbers of ventilators and high flow oxygen masks in preparation for future requirements.
"All hospitals must ensure that they have adequate trained manpower and resource pools for ventilator/ ICU care," the advisory stated.
It also asked all hospitals to provide free treatment to medical personnel who pick up infection while treating patients and said no suspected COVID-19 patient should be turned away from any hospital and the admission of any such patient should be notified to National Centre for Disease Conrtol (NCDC) or Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) immediately.
Similarly, all pneumonia patients must also be notified to NCDC or IDSP so that they can be tested for COVID-19, it said adding that hospitals should ensure social distancing in their premises.
According to the advisory, all ongoing examinations may be rescheduled after March 31 and all educational institutions and examination boards requested to maintain regular communication with the students and teachers through electronic means and keep them fully informed so that there is no anxiety amongst them.
Institutions are also requested to notify help-line numbers/e-mails which students can access for their queries and all unauthorized/ authorized shops (excluding pharmacies) and eateries in the vicinity of hospitals should be compulsorily shut, it stated.
As far as OPD is concerned, the ministry asked hospitals to advise patients not to come for routine visits if it can be avoided or postponed. It also said patients suffering from chronic diseases and minor elements be advised to utilise OPDs in primary/ secondary care facilities rather than crowding tertiary care centres.
"OPDs may be organised in such a manner that patients exhibiting flu-like symptoms are attended separately from other patients and spaced out so as to avoid overcrowding.
"Pharmacy counters may be increased and queue management systems to be followed by engaging Indian Red Cross/ NDRF volunteers," it said.
All hospitals should carry out a preparedness drill on March 22, it said.
Guidelines for this drill will be made available on the Health Ministry website, it added.
The advisory further stated that patients must be educated about cough etiquette, 'Dos and Don'ts', proper use of masks instead of using them indiscriminately and inefficiently and personal hygiene.
"Patients must be counselled against attaching any kind of stigma to coronavirus patients or to facilities where such patients are admitted. They must be made aware that
quick disclosure of symptoms and undergoing testing if advised is the surest way of battling COVID 19," it said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)