New Delhi: The Assam government will be withdrawing a host of free services meant for COVID-19 patients as the government has no money to continue with the assistance, Assam Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said. Also Read - Assam Lockdown: State Govt Allows Fully Vaccinated Employees To Resume Office From July 1
He announced the withdrawal of some of the non-chargeable services offered to COVID-19 patients like dropping them at their homes after discharge from hospitals and levied charges on dedicated cabins. If anyone wishes to get the result of RT-PCR tests in government hospitals within 24 hours, then it will be charged at Rs 2,200 at the government hospitals. Also Read - BREAKING: Earthquake of Magnitude 2.8 Strikes Sonitpur in Assam
Rs 6,000 will have to be paid by anyone from private hospitals needing plasma, Sarma told a press conference. Also Read - Check Latest COVID-19 Travel Guidelines For Assam, Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab And West Bengal
“While fighting COVID-19 pandemic in Assam, our revenues or resources are slowly getting stressed … If it continues till October-November, then it will be difficult for us,” he said.
To mitigate the financial crisis, the minister announced that from now on the paying cabins which were free for COVID-19 patients at government hospitals, will be chargeable. The medicines will, however, continue to be free.
“We will also not be giving free vehicle drops to a patient after he or she is discharged. He or she has to arrange it. However, for inter-district movement of patients after release, we will continue to arrange their transport,” he added.
The minister also requested patients to bring their own food while being admitted to government hospitals as arranging food for all might be difficult in coming days. But the government will continue to feed the BPL or poor COVID-19 patients.
“We made a calculation that till yesterday we had one lakh patients. If the patients are staying in a government hospital for 10 days, that means it will be 10 lakh in headcount. If we are spending Rs 500 per day, then it becomes a Rs 500 crore affair. We have done 20 lakh tests and if we have spent Rs 1,000 approximately in each then it is a Rs 200 crore affair … The state government can definitely not handle such a huge burden. So, a time may come when we will be able to look after only the poor patients. However, today that situation has not come yet,” the minister said.
Assam has recorded a total of 1,01,367 coronavirus cases of which 26,646 have been reported from Guwahati city alone. At present, 20,008 patients are still being treated.
(With PTI Inputs)