Work to install oxygen plants at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) and the Siliguri District Hospital (SDH) has started on a warfooting. The plants will facilitate oxygen supply to patients in hospitals. The chairperson of the board of administrators at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, Gautam Deb, who chaired two important meetings on the Covid-19 situation today, said the proposed oxygen plant at the SDH will be readied within Saturday and was expected to be functional from Sunday.

Officials at the NBMCH said two plants with the capacity of 1000 litres/minute each will be set up here. In case of emergency, a patient requires six litres of oxygen per minute. “Once commissioned, these would largely help deal with the demand for oxygen,” Mr Deb said.

It is learnt that the National Highways Authority of India is supervising the installation work at the SDH, while the PHE is looking after the primary construction work at the NBMCH. Mr Deb held the first meeting with the nodal officer for Covid-19 in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, Surendra Gupta, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri district magistrates, chief medical officers of health of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts, police officers, SJDA CEO, NBMCH principal and superintendent and other officials today.

Mr Deb further said that plans are afoot to create a 30bed facility at Jishu Ashram at Matigara. He said 17 beds were currently available at Dr Chhang’s Super Specialty Hospital, and that more medical staff would be appointed for the functioning of 13 more beds. In another meeting with private nursing home authorities, Mr Deb firmly said there should not be overcharging from patients, and that they should abide by the protocols set by the state government.

“We have told them that they should not go for inflated bills, and the limit of Rs 50,000 for the admission of Covid-19 patients should not be exceeded. In some cases, private hospitals cannot refuse admission if the patient cannot pay the sum. They should keep us informed about the status of available beds reserved for Covid-19 patients, occupancy status, and they should accept the Swasthya Sathi cards,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Siliguri Welfare Organistation said private nursing homes had hiked the charges by taking advantage of the helplessness of the people. The secretary of the organization, Rupak De Sarkar, said mass awareness and citizen movement were required against such immoral practices.

Toll free number The organisation launched a toll free number-9772227487 to help Covid-19 patients under home isolation. The patients can discuss or seek advice from reputed doctors of Siliguri and the state through the number. It will also provide the number of beds at hospitals, and hospitals from where ambulances and oxygen can be got. 585 new Covid cases in Darjeeling district The Siliguri Municipal Corporation area, including those under Jalpaiguri, recorded 382 new cases today, sources said.

Darjeeling district counted 585 cases in total. Matigara registered 91 cases, Naxalbari 88, Sukna 19, Darjeeling Municipality and Bijanbari recorded 18 cases each, Mirik 16 cases, Kharibari 15, Sukhia Pokhari 12, Takdah seven, Phansidewa six and Kurseong Municipality five cases. 19 Covid patients die Nineteen persons, who had been tested positive for Covid-19, died at separate health facilities in Siliguri in the past 24 hours, sources said. According to health department sources, 16 persons died in the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, one person in the Siliguri District Hospital, while two persons died in a private nursing home.

NBDCH offers auditorium for safe home The North Bengal Dental College and Hospital has informed the health department of a proposal to turn its newly-constructed auditorium into a safe house for those who test positive for Covid-19. The Patient Welfare Committee chairman, Dr Rudranath Bhattacharya, said the health department could use over 300 sq meters of space in the auditorium.

Dr Bhattacharya said the auditorium, located on the third floor, has ample space for air circulation and the elevator facility. He said around 60 patients could be accommodated there at a time. Dr Bhattacharya said around four-five unused rooms on the ground floor of the college could also be used for at least 16 more patients. He said if converted, it would be an advantage because both the NBDCH and the NBMCH, where Covid patients are treated, are located on the same campus.