Kerala govt caps prices of medical items required to treat COVID-19, including PPE kits and N95 masks

The Kerala government on Friday capped the rates of medical items used in treating COVID-19 — including PPE kits, N95 masks, face shields and hand sanitisers, among others.

The state government has designated these as essential articles and fixed maximum retail prices for them.

The Food and Civil Supplies Department on Friday invoked the Kerala Essential Articles
Control Act, 1986 and also cited the Central government's advisory to ensure availability of healthcare items at affordable prices.

As per the order, a PPE kit cannot be priced higher than Rs 273 and an N95 mask cannot cost more than Rs 22. A pulse oximeter now will not cost more than Rs 1,500.

"In view of the increasing number of COVID cases all over the country, the Central government has directed state government to take necessary steps to ensure the availability of the medical items to common man at fair prices. Health and Family Welfare Department has forwarded a proposal for fixing the price of the following medical items and also requested to declare the same as essential articles under the provision of the Kerala Essential Articles Control Act, 1986," the order read.

This comes after the Kerala government on Monday capped the rates of COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals. The state had set apart 50 percent hospital beds in such facilities for COVID-19.

According to the order, private hospitals that have a National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) can charge Rs 2,910 per day for the general ward, and those without NABH can charge Rs 2,645 per day. For the High Dependency Unit (HDU), hospitals can charge Rs 3,795 (non-NABH) and Rs 4,175 (NABH), per day.

The government Friday extended the total lockdown in the state from 16 to 23 May. The decision to extend the lockdown was taken in view of high test positivity rates in districts, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said.

The state is currently under a 9-day complete shutdown as part of its efforts to bring down the daily caseload of infected persons.

Vijayan also announced 'triple lockdown' in four districts -Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram - from 16 May to bring down the rising number of cases.

The state registered 34,694 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking the overall tally to 20,55,528.

With inputs from PTI