Bishnu Writes to Nadda to Revamp Health Infrastructure and Other Measures to Contain Infection Spread

Port Blair, Aug 19: The Former Member of Parliament, Shri Bishnu Pada Ray has appealed to the National President, BJP, Shri J.P. Nadda to help revamp the health infrastructure with sufficient stock of medicines in A&N Islands.

In his letter Bishnu writes, “This is with reference to the telecon I had with you on Covid situation in the island territory and urgent deployment of central team to monitor the worsening situation in the islands.

“… the Covid situation in the islands is alarming now and the spread in the main South Andaman Island is almost absolute.  In the absence of limited testing, the correct picture is not coming out and as a result, the plan of containment has failed terribly here”.

Considering the weak health infrastructure in the islands , a detailed plan had to be in place, said Bishnu. Our isles, being remote and distant, provided an excellent opportunity to contain the spread by merely having a plan in place. It appears that no plan of action was ever prepared (or atleast not in knowledge of public or the elected representatives) which has resulted in the current situation where a number of lives have already been lost including some very young in age, he said.

The primary flaws that have been pointed time and again is summarized as below :-

G B Pant Hospital being the only referral hospital of these islands should not have been designated as dedicated Covid Hospital. This has now resulted in people with other ailments having nowhere to go for treatment. Administration had ample of time from February 2020 to earmark some other CHC/PHC as dedicated Covid Hospital but rather than doing that a very easy way was found out to convert the only referral hospital G B Pant Hospital...

Now every ward of G B Pant Hospital is infected with Covid 19.

Most of the staffs, Junior doctors and interns are infected with Covid 19.

Every post caesarean section patient is turning out to be Covid 19 positive.

Already 30 deaths due to Covid 19  has happened and counting.

Many patients are in critical condition due to Covid 19 and are on ventilator.

The Director of Health services Dr Omkar Singh and Nodal officer Covid 19 Dr Avijith Roy tested positive and are /were already admitted in Covid Care Center South point for treatment. What would be the fate of common man if the present scenario is like this?

No sufficient man power or machinery available if the number of patients keep on increasing like this.

During Unlock 1, the passengers coming to the islands should have been put on mandatory quarantine period and tested. All leaders including the undersigned had requested time and again to do so in writing but no heed was paid to it. This was the best we could do to at least slow down and stagger the spread.

Due to the spread, anybody coming to G B Pant Hospital is at gravest risk of contracting Covid 19 infection.

Advice / suggestions of experts in health field have always been ignored or fell in deaf ears of top officials as they think they are all knowledgeable.

No consultation with elected representatives to chalk out strategy has yet been taken.

In fact not even a single UTDMA meeting has been taken though we have been fighting this enemy for months now.

No plan has been drawn on how to manage and control the spread. In South Andaman, the spread is almost absolute. The other islands have very weak health infra and spread in these islands will take a heavy toll if not managed urgently.

The testing capability has to be increased and should be decentralized quickly so that samples can be collected from different parts and tested. The results can be made available by SMS so as to avoid delay.

There is an urgent need to carry out antibody testing in view of community spread here to ascertain the 'actual' spread and recalibrate our actions accordingly

Most of the offices are closed including those involved directly in the fight are badly crippled due to widespread infection of the officers and workers etc.  Even in Raj Niwas., many IAS officers and other corona warriors have not escaped infection.

Spread in outer islands, where health infra is weak will overwhelm the health infra there too. It has to be borne in mind that the present season also has another threat looming around i.e. Andaman Fever, which also has potential to kill people besides the islands being prone to malaria / dengue.

Most of the crew and officers on boats and ships or involved in supply of essentials to islands are testing positive resulting in disruption of supplies. POL crisis has already developed in North & Middle Andaman. During pandemic situation, it has to be ensured that systems remain normal and functional as far as possible leaving little room for other type of crisis from developing. But the same could not be ensured here due to uncontrolled spread.

As a result of these miss / missed steps, the present scenario in the islands has turned alarming. Our cases per million is now thrice the national average. Limited reach of health infra is resulting in higher deaths (many may not be counted as Covid deaths because these are happening in villages and not being reported or ascertained).

The figures of death taken from graveyards and crematorium for the month of August is many times higher than normal months. Clearly the machinery is drained/ tired and overwhelmed by the scale of spread and rather than unlocking the Administration is now in panic mode locking down the UT yet again, which is causing immense hardships to daily wage earners and poorer sections of the society.

Having briefed the National President on the COVID situation of the Islands, Bishnu has demanded:

  1. As already discussed over phone, immediate deputing a central team to take stock and preparing a plan to contain further spread and to strengthen the weak health infra
  2. Senior Doctors/ epidemiologist to control outbreak of Corona resulting in more fatality now.
  3. Transfer of officers who have completed 2yrs here so that new officers can come and work with new energy.
  4. Minimum 10 Ambulance and two air ambulance from Pawan Hans.
  5. Linking one hospital at Chennai or Kolkata for treatment of other serious ailments like heart, kidney,cancer orthopaedic surgeries..
  6. To connect Andamans to national telemedicine network.
  7. Deputation of Doctors from AIIMS for 3 months
  8. Increasing testing and decentralizing the same
  9. To go for Sero Surveillance to ascertain spread and preparing strategy accordingly considering spread in South Andaman Island is quite high with unreported cases which may be going in thousands now.
  10. Recouping medicines PPE kits and supplies at the earliest and making it available at every corner of the territory on an emergent basis
  11. Involving MP/ PRIs and elected representatives in planning and operating the plan on field. UTDMA meeting and having a plan of action for containment is a must.
  12. Any other support as deemed fit by the central Govt. to tide over the disastrous situation developing here including a package / plan for uplifting the badly mauled economy of the territory, particularly the tourism sector and agriculture sector.