When numbers began to rise in July-August, the State's response to the Covid-19 pandemic was overwhelmed.
It quickly shifted the nucleus of the Covid-19 management to the Goa Medical College and Hospital, Bambolim, but nearly two months later, it is yet to bring the situation in its grip.
Clearly the infrastructure and manpower at the Goa Medical College and Hospital is wilting under the pressure with doctors stretched to their limits, many of them and other paramedics themselves getting infected and the mortality rate refusing to abate.
Left with no choice, the government is now belatedly attempting to bring the private hospital sector into the fight against the dreaded virus.
As a first step, the State government has now covered Covid-19 among the diseases under the Deen Dayal Swasthya Seva Yojana (DDSY) universal health insurance scheme. It is hoping that with this move, the astronomical costs of Covid-19 care in some of the private hospitals it has permitted to treat cases, will no longer be a deterrent for people to get themselves admitted.
With the situation in the GMC&H chaotic and costs of treatment at the private hospitals unaffordable, many who tested positive were opting for home isolation. But poor monitoring of thousands of such patients was contributing to an alarmingly high mortality rate.
In fact a significantly high number of people dying are reported to have breathed their last within 24 hours of being admitted to the GMC&H or the other Covid hospitals run by the government.
Now, the government's decision to bring Covid-19 in the bouquet of diseases covered under the DDSY scheme, according to officials will encourage people to get themselves admitted to the private hospitals before it is too late.
The high costs of Covid treatment was a major deterrent for those testing positive to seek hospital treatment from the private health sector and were opting to stay put at home with GMC&H already overburdened, the officials say.
Under the DDSY scheme, mild Covid cases will be covered to an extent of Rs 4,600 per day of treatment and critical ones for Rs 6,600 per day, which takes care of almost half the costs.
Initially, the State government had issued a maximum rate card beyond which private hospitals permitted to treat Covid cases were not allowed to charge patients.
The government had initially announced a cap on Covid treatment rates at private hospitals in mid-September but revised it a week later after Opposition parties and others raised a hue and cry over they being astronomically high.
Accordingly, the charges for general Covid ward in the private medical sector was capped at Rs 10,000 per day, a twin-sharing Covid ward at Rs 13,000 per day, single private rooms at Rs 16,000 per day and ICU with ventilator occupancy capped at Rs 24,000 per day.
The packages are to include admission charges, intensivist, primary and specialist consultant charges, bed charges, nursing and resident doctor charges, nutritional diet, PPE kits for staff, X-ray, electrocardiogram, ultrasonography, 2D echocardiogram monitor, infusion pump, catheterization, COmplete Blood Count, Post Prandial Blood Sugar Level, haemoglobin A1c, creatinine zinc, vitamin D, paracetamol, antacid, antiallergic, hydroxichloroquine, azithromycin, doxycycline, levoflaxin, dexamthasone, ivermectin, dietary changes.
With the numbers of new infections on a daily basis still hovering in the region of 500, it is unlikely that the handful of private hospitals will shoulder the load. The government's move to now cover Covid-19 under DDSY, however, will make private hospital care affordable to many more.