Jaipur: The Rajasthan government is augmenting its efforts in fighting the coronavirus pandemic by involving the state’s private sector.
From hand sanitisers, hospital beds, and even lodging and food for migrant workers, to dissuade them from heading home, the state has supplemented in combating the crisis by involving private companies and healthcare firms.
Rajasthan has been among the worst affected states and there are fears that the textile hub of Bhilwara could turn into a super cluster.
As of Monday night, according to Union health ministry data, Rajasthan has 59 positive cases. Sources in the state government, however, told ThePrint that the number is 93 (as of Tuesday morning), including 17 positive cases at the Indian Army quarantine facility in Jaisalmer.
Four firms picked for hand sanitisers
When the demand for hand sanitisers outstripped supply, the state government first decided to manufacture it on its own. But it then also involved four private sector companies along with state-owned Ganganagar Sugar Mills.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot Monday tweeted that the Ganganagar Sugar Mills and five private distilleries (belonging to the four companies) have been supplying five lakh bottles of hand sanitisers every day.
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State govt through 5 units of GangaNagar Sugar Mills & 5 pvt distilleries is supplying every day 5.0 lac bottles of hand sanitizer.This is to help reduce over pricing & hoarding of hand sanitizer in state & ensure avlblty to hospitals,health wrkrs & corona warriors in all 33 dist
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) March 30, 2020
Apart from five units of Ganganagar Sugar Mills in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Kota and Hanumangarh, the private companies supplying hand sanitisers include Global Spirit Limited, Vintage Distillers Limited, Agri Biotech Industries and ADS Agro Limited.
At present, the sanitisers are being supplied to health workers, the army, police, paramilitary forces and government employees.
Excise Commissioner Bishnu Charan Mallick said that soon they would be available for ordinary citizens.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi also hailed the move, while urging the UP government to follow suit.
असाधारण समय में अभूतपूर्व फैसले भी लेने पड़ते हैं। राजस्थान सरकार 5 चीनी मिलों व 5 निजी डिस्टलरी से हर दिन पांच लाख सैनिटाइजर की सप्लाई करवा रही है👏🏼। इससे जमाखोरी भी नहीं होगी। रेट कम रहेंगे और हमारे स्वास्थ्य योद्धाओं की सुरक्षा बनी रहेगी।
ये कार्य यूपी सरकार भी कर सकती है। https://t.co/raz8a1aq3c
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) March 30, 2020
Private hospitals asked to join efforts
Faced with rising coronavirus cases and limited capacity of government hospitals, the state health department has sought the help of private hospitals and individuals. Its official website has uploaded forms for those willing to join in the efforts to fight the epidemic.
The health department has also asked private hospitals to keep a fourth of their total beds and their ICUs for positive patients and those suspected of having contracted Covid-19.
The Jaipur district administration Monday moved to take over 84 private hospitals in the city. This will add over 9,000 beds to its capacity.
“We have identified and reserved these private hospitals. They will be used when the need arises,” Jaipur ADM Ashok Kumar Choudhary told the Print.
The government will also use qualified doctors and nursing staff of these hospitals, he added.
The private healthcare sector has, so far, expressed no reservations in joining in.
Managing director of private medical firm Shekhawati Group of Institutes, Dr Sarvesh Joshi, said the private hospitals are ready to help the government in this unprecedented crisis.
“We have received a letter from the government informing us to be ready to provide our facilities and services. But we would only be required if the situation explodes like in Europe or China,” Joshi said.
However, Joshi, who is also secretary of Indian Medical Association and president of Rajasthan Doctors Association, said the government will have to arrange protective gear for the health workers. “We are short of masks and protective kits for doctors and nursing staff. At least 90 kits are needed daily,” he said.
Shelters for migrant workers
Apart from medical urgency, the state government has also created 45 shelters, including at private guest houses and dharamshalas, to prevent migrant workers’ movement and arrange for their shelter and food. Community organisations have also offered their hostels to be used as temporary medical facilities.
Apart from religious charitable trusts and social organisations, the state government has turned to the Akshaya Patra Foundation, which provides midday meals in the state’s schools.
CEO of Jaipur Municipal Corporations, Vijaypal Singh, said one lakh food packets are being distributed daily to poor people. The food is prepared at the Akshaya Patra kitchens at 93 places across the city.
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