Rajasthan Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma spoke exclusively to NewsX about the state’s preparations for tackling the rise in Covid-19 cases during the deadly second wave and imminent third wave. The minister also spoke of the worrying increase in cases of black fungus which has been declared an epidemic by the state government.
Q: What is the action plan taken to fight the surge of the virus in Rajasthan?
As told by scientists and doctors, the third wave will affect children more. Thus we have planned to make all the big hospitals well-equipped. All children’s wards will be well-equipped to fight the virus. Within 1-2 months, ICU beds will be developed. Centralised oxygen will be provided and oxygen plants will be installed. We have advised even our community health centres to provide for the treatment of children. Rajasthan is fully ready. Our CM and all medical staff have prepared this plan.
Q: You talk about the third wave preparation, procurement management facilities and infrastructure facilities, but has Rajasthan recovered from the effects of the second wave?
Not yet, but the cases in Rajasthan are declining. In a single day, we had 18,000 cases and deaths were 161, which are a lot. We were among the top 5 states with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country. 2.8 lakh cases were coming in. But since the last 2-3 days there has been a decline in positive cases. Today there are 7,000 cases and the active cases are around 1 lakh. For us, this is satisfactory news.
Q: What were the measures taken by your government to bring the numbers under control now?
In the last 10-11 months we got oxygen plants installed in 37 places. But in the second wave, as the cases increased dramatically, the distribution of oxygen, injections and drugs were taken by the Central Government. There was a lot of load on the hospitals and there were huge crowds outside hospitals. We tried our best to increase beds, tried to make as many beds available in whichever hospital we could. We bought oxygen concentrators. But as the rise in cases was dramatic and unexpected we could not do well in the beginning. But now we are fully prepared.
Q: It’s good news that your government is fully prepared now. Your government has declared black fungus an epidemic and a lot of deaths are happening due to it, which is a cause of concern.
It is a cause of concern that after recovering from Covid-19 people are getting infected with black fungus. The medicine for the treatment is in control of the Central Government but we have demanded that they supply us with the drugs required for treatment. Black fungus is hitting people who have used excessive steroids and people with less immunity. We have teamed up with surgeons and ophthalmologists to make plans to fight this epidemic.