Karnataka-CII task force soon to fight Covid

Amid the pandemic’s second wave, Karnataka is setting up a task force with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to jointly fight the Covid surge in the state, Health Minister K. Sudhakar said on Sunday.

“We are setting up a task force with CII to jointly fight the pandemic by augmenting medical infrastructure, including opening a call centre and modular ICUs to treat serious Covid cases,” said Sudhakar in a statement here after a virtual meeting with captains of the industry on Saturday.

With state Health Department officials and the CII’s state unit representatives as its members, the task force will help the state on using technology to source medicines, medical equipments, among other things.

Infosys co-founder and former CII President Kris Gopalakrishnan, Kirloskar Systems Chairman Vikram Kirloskar, noted cardiologist Devi Shetty and CII Karnataka Chairman Ramesh Ramadurai interacted with Sudhakar and reviewed the Covid situation across the state.

“The task force will provide inputs on setting up a master call centre for coordinating Covid management across the state on the lines of ‘Aptha Mitra’ helpline the state government had set up last year to fight the virus,” said Sudhakar, a medical doctor by profession.

In view of the rising caseload, the state government plans to set up modular ICUs with 3,000-5,000 beds across the state, with a majority of them in the city, which has been hit hard.

“A few companies have come forward to set up modular ICUs in 7-10 days with all facilities to treat Covid patients,” the minister said, also urging the CII to channel its corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for Covid care, as the Central government has allowed it.

“More than CSR funds, we are looking for technology, knowledge and contacts for sourcing medicines and medical equipment,” Sudhakar said.

As 95 per cent of active cases are in home isolation, the Health Department is looking for innovative technology to remotely monitor them on a daily basis.

“We have sought CII help to identify and procure anti-viral drugs Remdesivir and Tocilozomab injections from other countries,” added Sudhakar.

He also sought the help of CII to identify and procure Remdesivir and Tocilizomab injections from other countries.

Devi Shetty, who heads Narayan Health multi-specialty hospital in the city, urged the state government to address the shortage of doctors and nurses although the immediate needs is oxygen and anti-viral drugs.

“All headlines in the media are on shortage of medical oxygen currently. But soon, headlines will be on shortage of doctors and nurses,” he warned, advising the state government to augment medical staff by hiring 2.2 lakh nursing students in the country who are in their final year.

“Similarly, around 1.3-lakh medical (MMBS) students are preparing for NEET exams. The state government should deploy them in Covid management and incentivise them for the work through grace marks or quota in government jobs,” Shetty told the Health Minister.

Kirloskar urged the state Health Department to release official protocols for home isolated patients to avoid them from being misled from misinformation on social media.

Gopalakrishnan advised the minister to import anti-viral drugs and medical equipment from overseas to bridge the gap in the medical infrastructure.

According to the state health bulletin, a record 29,438 new cases were reported from across the state on Saturday, including 17,342 in Bengaluru. Of 209 lives lost to the infection on Saturday, 149 were from Bengaluru.