4.68L dedicated beds for Covid patients, Centre to SC

New Delhi: There are 4.68 lakh beds for COVID-19 patients in over 2,084 dedicated hospitals across the country, the Centre has told Supreme Court. The fact about the availability of dedicated hospital beds in the country has been noted down in its order by a bench headed by Jusitce D Y Chandrachud which passed a slew of directions to ensure essential supplies and services to deal with the second wave of the pandemic.

It also noted that the Central government, in its affidavit, has said it has devised a three-tier setup for COVID management and it has set up Covid Care Centers (CCC), Dedicated COVID Health Centers (DCHC) and Dedicated COVID Hospitals (DCH).

The present status of these is: (i) 2,084 DCH (of which 89 are under the Central Government and the rest 1,995 with State Governments); (ii) 4,043 DCHC; and (iii) 12,673 CCC. Cumulatively, they have 18,52,265 beds in total, out of which 4,68,974 beds are in DCH. It was also noted that Central Government hospitals have also been converted into DCH, the apex court recorded in its order.

The hospitals under ESIC, Defence, Railways, paramilitary forces, Steel Ministry have been leveraged for COVID management, the Centre has said, adding as many as 3,816 railways coaches, spread over 16 railway zones, have been converted into COVID Care Centres. The bench, also comprising justices L Nagesara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat took note of the submissions and recommended to the Centre that healthcare workforce may be augmented further.

It is common knowledge that a large number of medical, nursing and pharmacy students, who graduated in 2020 and would be in the process of graduating in 2021, would be available to augment the workforce in the health sector. The Central Government should, we feel, look into this aspect, and ensure the optimal manner of utilization of their services, regard being had, of course, to their safety and well-being, it said. The Central Government should also consider using health care workforce available with the armed forces and para military forces for the purpose of vaccination, it suggested.

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