British-era Epidemic Diseases Act invoked to effect takeover
Visakhapatnam: Invoking a British-era Act, the Andhra Pradesh government has taken over all private and corporate hospitals in the state with immediate effect.
The decision was taken in view of the burgeoning number of coronavirus cases in the state. As of Monday evening, 23 new positive cases were reported, with Visakhapatnam registering the highest number at six.
Exercising powers conferred under the colonial-era Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, and the Andhra Pradesh Epidemic Disease Covid-19 Regulations, 2020, the government empowered district collectors to take charge of all private hospitals.
Any resistance would be viewed seriously as per provisions of Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, the government declared.
Doctors of private hospitals would have to provide their services whenever required by the government, as per the Act.
The hospitals would have to make available to the government all their resources, including infrastructure like beds, rooms, wards, ICU premises, ventilators, testing labs, pharmacies, mortuaries, equipment and manpower.
Andhra Medical College principal Dr P.V. Sudhakar said that in the first phase only network hospitals would be taken over; the remaining would be added depending on the situation.
In a bulletin released on Monday at 10 am, the state government announced that two men aged 49 and 72 years from Kakinada and Rajahmundry respectively had tested positive. A total of 33 samples were tested since Sunday night, out of which 31 showed negative, while two tested positive.
The state government issued an order for setting up additional sample collection centres at all private medical colleges designated as district Covid-19 hospitals. All private medical college hospitals and other private hospitals have been directed to place their premises with all available resources and manpower at the disposal of the district collector as and when required, the department of health said in a bulletin.
Efforts are on to identify hotspots around the cluster of coronavirus-positive tested patients. Joint collectors have been made responsible for total monitoring through medical teams in Covid hospitals, it said.
Augmenting bed strength for isolation purposes has been initiated and collectors have been asked to obtain details of hotels, function halls / marriage halls, convention centres which can be converted into isolation wards, the bulletin added.