The state clinical establishment regulatory commission on Monday (October 12) has asked all private hospitals to increase the number of beds for COVID patients and not refuse any patient during the festive season.

The commission has also fixed the ambulance charges by private operators.

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After the meeting, commission chairperson Justice (retired) Ashim Kumar Banerjee said, “About 500 additional COVID beds are expected to be added by private hospitals during the festival, a good number being ICU beds.”

“The hospitals cannot bill a second day’s bed charge before a patient completes 24 hours’ stay and ambulances cannot charge more than Rs 3,000 to ferry patients within Calcutta and its suburbs,” he added.

Officials of private hospitals in the state, at a meeting with Banerjee during the day, pledged around 500 additional beds during Puja.

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Ashim Kumar Banerjee asked the hospitals to have the additional beds ready by October 22. The hospitals were also told to submit the augmentation plans by Wednesday (October 14) evening.

Doctors fear the number of Covid-19 cases in the city could rise sharply during Durga puja or after Puja.

However, the West Bengal cabinet on Monday (October 12) decided to increase the bed strength in government hospitals by 50 per cent and bring down the charge for coronavirus tests in private health establishments.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has cautioned the people about the possible surge of COVID-19 and asked them to adhere strictly to the health protocol.