Karnataka agrees to open Talapady NH for non-COVID19 patients
Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 06: In a huge relief for Kerala, neighbouring Karnataka has agreed to allow ambulances carrying patients other than COVID-19 cases through Talapady border in Kasaragod district for treatment in hospitals in Mangaluru during the ongoing lockdown. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced the decision of the Karnataka government during his daily media briefing on COVID-19 situation.
The breakthrough came two days after the Supreme Court through video conferencing asked the Chief Secretaries of Kerala and Karnataka to hold discussions with Union Health Secretary for an amicable settlement of the issue and decide on parameters to be maintained in case of health emergencies.
The court on Friday gave the directive during the hearing of a petition by Karnataka challenging a high court order for opening of borders as to allow free movement of vehicles carrying persons for urgent medical treatment. It also orally asked the Kerala government to not to precipitate the issue of opening of borders till further hearing of the matter on Tuesday.
At least eight seriously ill patients have died so far unable to get treatment in Mangaluru as the national highway at Talapady had been closed in view of the 21-day lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus. "Karanataka will open Talpady check post and allow ambulances carrying patients other than Covid-19 infected ones.
A medical team of Karnataka will be stationed there and would examine the patient before allowing them to enter that state," Vijayan said. The patients from Kerala need to carry a certificate mentioning the hospital which they plan to visit in Mangaluru, he said.
Karnataka had closed its borders with Kerala after Kasaragod became a hotspot of coronavirus with at least 128 positive cases till now. Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had said opening of the state's borders will be like "embracing death".
Meanwhile, Vijayan said Kerala has been allowing people from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to visit hospitals in Wayanad district despite lockdown. The northern part of Kasaragod district depends on Mangaluru for medical facilities especially dialysis patients. While Kasaragod was suffering from lack of medical facilities and rising virus cases, a new COVID-19 speciality center at Kasaragod Medical College has started its operation from Monday.
"It took four days to complete the conversion of the medical college block into COVID-19 treatment centre. There are 200 beds and 10 ICU beds in the first phase," Vijayan said.
Soon, 100 more beds and 10 more ICU beds will be made ready. Rs seven crore has been spent so far to arrange the modern facilities for the hospital, he added.
A 26-member medical team including 11 doctors, 10 staff nurses, and 5 nursing assistants reached Kasaragod to coordinate the activities and train the staff for the treatment of COVID-19, officials said.