Kerala covid beds
Healthcare workers set beds at Covid First Line Treatment Centre (CFLTC) for COVID-19 patients amid the rise in cases, in Kochi on Friday, April 23, 2021. Image Credit: ANI

Thiruvananthapuram:: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said that the government has issued orders to cap the charges for the treatment of the COVID patients who directly get admitted there.

"The COVID treatment is already free for the beneficiaries of Karunya Arogya Suraksha Padhati (KASP) and those referred from government hospitals to private hospitals empanelled by the State Health Agency. The tariff announced today will be applicable for the COVID patients who reach the private hospitals directly. This was necessitated because of the large number of complaints of overcharging and exorbitant billing by such hospitals and the subsequent intervention by the High Court. The rates were finalised after discussions with private hospitals," Kerala CM said.

There are two slabs of rates fixed for National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH)-accredited hospitals and non-accredited hospitals.

"These rates include registration charge, bed charges, nursing and boarding charges, surgeons, anaesthetists, medical practitioner, consultant charges, anesthesia, blood transfusion, oxygen, medicines, essential tests, X-ray, USG, hematology, pathology, and pre and post-hospitalization costs," Vijayan said.

High-end tests such as CT Chest/ HRCT Chest, as well as expensive drugs such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, and the PPE kits are excluded from the daily rate. There is a strict provision that these cannot be charged in excess of the MRP. PPE Kit, pulse oximeter, masks and portable oxygen cylinders should not be overcharged.

"The rates charged by the hospitals must be displayed within the hospital and on their own website, as per the Clinical Establishment Act. If any hospital is found to be charging more than the prescribed rate, the District Medical Officer will penalise them with ten times the fine as per the Clinical Establishment Act. In addition, District Collectors will take further action under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2021," the CM said.

He said that the patients arriving for COVID treatment must be admitted immediately by all private hospitals in strict compliance with admission protocols and no advance payment of medical fees should be taken at the time of admission.

As many as 27,487 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Kerala in the last 24 hours, the state health department informed on Monday.

"The positivity rate of the state stands at 27.56 per cent. There were 65 deaths due to COVID in the last 24 hours taking the death toll to 5,978," the department said.

The Kerala CM further said that that there are 72 panchayats in the state with a test positivity rate of over 50 per cent and 19 of them are in Ernakulam district. In 300 panchayats, it is above 30 per cent.

"There are 57 panchayats with 500 to 2,000 active cases. This is a serious situation. The number of confirmed cases continues to be high in Kannur, Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam districts. Stronger preventive measures should be taken in these districts. In other districts it is gradually declining", the Chief Minister added.