Andhra Pradesh records nearly 15,000 new COVID-19 cases on April 29, patients from SPS Nellore district rushing to Chennai in search of oxygen-equipped hospital beds

Published : April 30, 2021 17:28 IST

COVID-19 patients from across Prakasam district and from neighbouring Guntur and SPS Nellore districts throng the government general hospital in Ongole on April 24. Photo: KOMMURI SRINIVAS

With seven of Andhra Pradesh’s 13 districts recording over a 1,000 COVID-19 positive cases and the State recording nearly 15,000 fresh cases in the past 24 hours taking its number of active cases to 1,14,158, several COVID-19 infected patients from the State’s Nellore district are rushing to Chennai in search of oxygen-equipped hospital beds, and arguably, better treatment.

While government officials confirmed the fact that patients were indeed travelling south to Chennai, or to even Ongole in the north, they advised patients to first check the Andhra Pradesh government’s “COVID-19 Dashboard” that was launched on April 19 and which provides frequently updated region-wise information on the availability of beds, ventilators and oxygen in both government and private hospitals. However, some patients said that all the ICUs in the district’s 48 hospitals were fully occupied.

But, making the 174-km journey to Chennai and securing a bed connected to an oxygen supply is not easy. Though most patients only make the dash to Chennai after confirming the availability of a bed in a hospital, a few have had to return without treatment. According to a patient’s relative, hospitals in Chennai are also not admitting patients whose oxygen saturation levels are deteriorating. Patients have been quoted as saying that hospital staff had denied them admission because their oxygen levels were below the mandatory 95 per cent. Many patients make the journey when their oxygen levels fall much below that figure.

The journey from Nellore to Chennai itself is an extremely costly affair for most since ambulance drivers are wont to demand anything between Rs.30,000 to Rs.50,000 for the three-hour journey.

There seems to be no respite for Andhra Pradesh from the COVID-19 onslaught as the State registered its highest ever single-day tally of 14,792 fresh cases on April 29. The State’s previous highest daily tally of 14,669 cases and 71 deaths was reported on April 28. On April 29, Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district recorded 1,831 new cases, followed by Srikakulam (1,829), Guntur (1,760), East Godavari (1,702), Anantapur (1,538), Visakhapatnam (1,129) and Nellore (1,002). The remaining six districts reported between 500 and 1,000 fresh cases: Kurnool with 876 cases, followed by YSR Kadapa (669), Prakasam (639), Vizianagaram (624), Krishna (597) and West Godavari (596).

According to the Health Department authorities, the latest figures took the State’s overall COVID-19 tally to 10.84 lakh until 10 a.m. on April 29. Deaths because of COVID-19 saw a slight decline in the course of the previous 24 hours. Compared with the 71 deaths in the previous 24-hour cycle, 57 persons lost their lives to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, taking the State’s overall death toll to 7,928. The State had administered 65.05 lakh doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as on April 30.