After ten people died in a fire accident at a COVID-19 treatment facility in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday, Health Department officials in neighbouring Telangana issued a circular, warning hospitals to adhere to fire safety norms. However, reports suggest that none of the 36 hotels functioning as COVID-19 treatment facilities in the state have submitted an application for the required No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Telangana State Disaster Response and Fire Services Department.
On Sunday the Director of Public Health and Family Welfare Dr G Srinivasa Rao issued a circular ordering hospitals and private COVID Care Centres (CCCs) leased by hospitals, to ensure fire safety norms. The official warned that any violation of safety norms will be treated as a serious offence.
Speaking to The New Indian Express reporter B Kartheek, the Rangareddy District Fire Safety Officer S Sreedhar Reddy said that his department has not received any application for NOCs for setting up COVID-19 treatment centres. Large parts of Hyderabad, especially the city’s Information Technology (IT) sector, falls under Rangareddy District.
Under the National Building Code’s bye-laws, all commercial buildings taller than 15 meters should have a valid permit from the department, while buildings smaller than that should have fire safety equipment installed.
Only 74 hospitals across the state have an NOC and in the past five months, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, fire department officials have not carried out any safety inspections, reported Aditi Mallick, in the Times of India.
Telangana in 2019 had reported 33 instances of fire mishaps and recorded 51 instances of fire accidents in 2018.
On July 1, 2020, a major fire broke out at the blood bank of MJN Institute of Oncology in Hyderabad. While there were no casualties around 200 patients were present at the ward and had to be shifted out when the fire started.
On August 8, in 2019 the post-operative paediatric ward on the third floor of Gandhi Hospital had caught fire. The room was locked at the time and no casualties were reported. The hospital presently is the nodal hospital for COVID-19 treatment in Telangana.
At least 10 people died at a star hotel converted into a coronavirus treatment centre in Vijayawada on Sunday when panic-stricken inmates tried to flee from a fire suspected to have been caused by an electrical short circuit. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy ordered a high-level probe into the accident, even as condolences poured in from across the country.
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