New Delhi: Earlier Indian Railways gave away its trains to be converted into COVID-19 care centers and now Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has lent its support to private players – aiming to ramp up COVID-19 testing in Bengaluru – by providing its buses which will be used as a mobile clinic. As part of the initiative, on May 11, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa inaugurated five such buses remodelled into mobile clinics with COVID-19 testing facility in Bengaluru.
Flagging off Mobile Fever Clinic Bus: Hon'ble Chief Minister launched the bus. During the occasion, Hon'ble Deputy Chief Minister, Transport Department, Hon'ble Revenue Minister, Hon'ble MP, Bengaluru South and Shri. Shivayogi C. Kalasad, IAS were present.
— KSRTC (@KSRTC_Journeys) May 11, 2020
Talking about converting a bus into a mobile fever clinic, Dr Rama Murthy, Chief Mechanical Engineer at KSRTC said,
We have given our regular running buses that have travelled a certain distance for a mobile clinic. We have provided the vehicle with the driver and the bus has been remodelled by the partner organisation Housejoy at a cost of Rs. 60,000.
The remodelled bus has been divided into three parts – the patient area which has a bed; the consultation area for a doctor that has a table and chair; COVID-19 testing area at the backside of the bus. The bus is fully equipped with essentials like medicine box, washing basin, sanitiser and other necessary items.
The makeshift mobile clinics have swab collection facility for COVID-19 testing and can conduct other blood tests like CBC (Complete Blood Count), protein test – CRP, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) – a type of blood test that measures how quickly erythrocytes (red blood cells) settle at the bottom of a test tube that contains a blood sample.
Talking about the COVID-19 testing cabin and how it ensures the safe collection of sample and at the same time, protection of health officials involved in sample collection, Sanchit Gaurav, CEO and founder of Housejoy, a company that has remodelled the buses said,
The COVID-19 testing cabin is sealed with glass. The lab technician sits inside the cabin and collects samples of the people sitting on the other side of the glass. Two gloves protrude out of the glass casing so the technician simply needs to put his/her hands in those gloves and take the nasal and throat swab.
Each mobile clinic has a doctor, three nurses and a lab technician. Sharing more details in regard to the healthcare services provided by the mobile clinics, Meena Ganesh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Portea Medical, said,
Every person walking into the clinic will go through a quick test – blood test, sugar test and preliminary test for COVID-19 by telling his/her symptoms. In case an individual shows symptoms of COVID-19, he/she will be sent to the COVID-19 collection booth built inside the bus. We have the capacity to collect 500 samples a day.
As part of the partnership between private players and the government, Portea Medical is providing doctors and nurses. While SRL diagnostics is responsible for general tests like CBC, ICMR accredited national clinical reference lab Biognosys Technologies is responsible for the COVID-19 test.
Further talking about COVID-19 test and the process that follows when an individual tested at mobile clinic tests positive for COVID-19, Ms Ganesh said,
The samples collected are analysed by the concerned team and the data is sent to the government who then processes it as it does for other COVID-19 reports. We have no role in that.
On a pilot basis, five mobile clinics have been deployed by the office of Tejasvi Surya, Member of Parliament for Bengaluru South along with private players. Sharing the details on the use of five buses started in Bengaluru, Mr Surya through a tweet informed that one of the buses will be provided to Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru to test at-risk policemen in the city. The other four buses will be utilised as per the requirements of the civic body BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) and the health department.
We've made available swab collection for covid, CBC, CRP & ESR tests in 5 such clinics
— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) May 11, 2020
According to Mr Gaurav, the other four buses will travel to 30 societies for 15 days in Bengaluru. The conglomerate plans to screen 15,000 to 18,000 individuals and depending on the feedback and success of the mobile clinic, the initiative will be rolled out across other cities with support from the respective governments.
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