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Govt hospitals fill up, doctors move asymptomatic patients to COVID-care centres

As the number of COVID-19 positive cases pile up, the government hospitals in Chennai have started shifting the asymptomatic patients to the COVID care centers set up across the city to free up space.

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As the number of COVID-19 positive cases pile up, the government hospitals in Chennai have started shifting the asymptomatic patients to the COVID care centers set up across the city to free up space.

The move comes after the state government’s order that it would only treat the symptomatic patients and allow the asymptomatic patients to isolate and quarantine at their home for recovery.

According to sources in the health department, until May 7, 8 am, out of 533 COVID-19 patients at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH), 251 people were shifted to COVID-care centers.

Nine people the same day and six on May 6 were discharged from the RGGGH and asked to quarantine themselves at home after they tested negative twice.

“Even the asymptomatic patient will be under the doctor’s examination for a day. Only if the patient does not show any symptoms, we will shift them to the COVID-care center and eventually to their homes after they test negative,” R.Jayanthi, Dean, RGGGH said.

After the city saw a huge spike in the number of COVID-19 cases resulting in crowded hospitals the government advised the authorities to shift the asymptomatic patients to COVID-care centres.

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“Since, it was not possible to accommodate everyone at the hospital. We have to keep the beds free for the newly admitted patients to monitor and treat them. So, we have adopted this method on a trial basis and the result will be known in a week,” said another doctor who did not want to be named.

The same is the case with Stanley Government Medical College Hospital and Kilpauk Medical College Hospital.

According to Stanley Medical College Hospital dean Balaji, every day the hospital is seeing an increasing number of patients and they have to make arrangements for them to treat.

“There is a little option available and those who do not need critical care can be shifted to the COVID-care centre after the physicians tests and approves them. The critical care including ventilator support and other treatments can be performed in hospitals only. So, we need the space to treat them,” Balaji said.

Balaji, however, could not confirm the number of people shifted to COVID-care centers.

According to sources, two days ago, about 25 people were discharged and asked to be in home quarantine for the next 14 days as the Kilpauk hospital was completely filled with patients.

While the virus outbreak in north Chennai including Royapuram and Tiru Vi Ka Nagar burdened the RGGGH, the Koyambedu cluster is burdening the other government hospitals in Chennai.

Explaining the situation, a senior official in the health department said, as of Sunday as many as 1750 beds were available for the COVID-19 patients at the government hospitals in Chennai. But, around 2281 active cases were reported until May 7. So, it is practically not possible to keep everyone in the hospital.”

The official also pointed out that the number would keep increasing from the new clusters and they have to be prepared to treat the people.

“Since we do not get more critical cases, we can treat asymptomatic people at the COVID-care facilities itself. But, once the number of critical cases starts increasing, that’s when we have to look for alternative options,” the official added.

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Meanwhile, Greater Chennai Corporation is in the process of acquiring schools, colleges, and marriage halls to temporarily convert them into a COVID-care facility to accommodate the asymptomatic patients.

“After 14 days, only if the patients test negative twice, we will be sending them home and for home quarantine. But, we cannot say that all the asymptomatic patients will test negative in 14 days. So, we need more space to accommodate them,” an official at Greater Chennai Corporation told.

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