Health secretary Nila Mohanan on Saturday admitted that the state is facing ambulance crunch which is impacting on attending to COVID-19 patients.
“I would not say that there are enough ambulances… we are definitely facing a crunch. Even today at the state executive committee meeting we discussed the need to enhance the number of ambulances… we are exploring several options,” Mohanan told a press conference in Panaji.
Currently, 108 ambulances are run by GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute in the state. However, only limited ambulances are used to cater to COVID patients.
When asked why there are hours of delay in picking up the patients from their homes after their test results are declared positive for COVID, the health secretary said, “Our team is trying its very best to intimate… There may be a slight delay in pickup on a day when we get quite a number of cases, but the information goes on time. We call up the family and tell them: see there is a positive case in your midst. Now please take all precautions… we are coming to take you.”
Mohanan informed that South Goa district collector Ajit Roy has notified the Margao municipal council crematorium to be used for disposal of dead bodies of COVID positive patients.
“We felt that it is much better to have a common place where the protocol can be maintained for the disposal of bodies of COVID positive patients. If the family makes an earnest request to carry the body back to their village for some reason then we will consider that. But otherwise, as a general principle, we stick to this protocol (MMC crematorium),” she said.
IIT and NIT hostels located in the campus of Goa Engineering College at Farmagudi will be used as a COVID care centre, she said, adding that the government is considering having additional such centres as there has been a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state.
The state government is actively considering using rapid antigen kits for testing potential COVID patients.