There are no intensive care unit (ICU) beds with ventilators to be had for Covid-19 patients in eight of the Capital’s 11 top private hospitals, data from the Delhi government’s real-time occupancy tracking app, Delhi Corona, showed on Tuesday, raising concerns that the city may face a scarcity of critical care resources whether the current spike in new infections worsens.
The national capital recorded 3,609 new Covid-19 infections as on Monday, taking the number of active cases to 22,377 – the highest since July 8, the government’s day by day health bulletin showed on Tuesday. The number of people in hospital has risen in tandem: from 3,590 beds occupied August 24 to 5,218 on September 7.
While this still leaves 8,788 of the 14,202 beds vacant, the concern especially relates to ICU beds – of the 14,202, only 2,117 are in the intensive care category.
“With the increase in the number of cases, we will be able to have to begin optimising our resources and may have to follow a strict cut-off like what used to be being followed in June — only those with oxygen saturation below 94% were being admitted to hospitals. Alternatively, by then every so often the condition already starts deteriorating,” said Dr Neeraj Gupta, professor of pulmonology at Safdarjung hospital.
The beds data from the Delhi Corona application mirror a drastic imbalance in people’s preference, with large private hospitals being the most sought after. The high occupancy also extends to ICU beds without ventilators in the top eight private hospitals, where 85% of these were occupied. In three of these, Max Patparganj, Fortis Shalimar Bagh and Apollo, there were zero vacancies even supposing 35% of such beds were reported vacant across the city.
The Delhi government and top health officials acknowledged that beds in private hospitals were seeing high demand, but added that there’s adequate resources for now. “There are enough ICU beds to be had, there is not any wish to worry,” a Delhi government spokesperson said.
“It’s the big private hospitals that have started getting full. And, this is chiefly because many prefer to go to these perhaps the big multi-speciality ones that have doctors from all disciplines to be had,” said Dr SK Sarin, director of Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences and chair of the first expert committee that had been set up by the Delhi government to administer Covid-19 in the city.
Accounting for all private hospitals in the city, 78.6% of ICU beds with ventilators and 66.3% of steady ICU beds were occupied. These numbers were correspondingly higher than government hospitals, where 37.6% of ICU beds with ventilators and 50% steady ICU beds were already full.
Sarin said fatality trends indicate the infrastructure used to be in a position to care for the load and the situation used to be unlikely to grow to be like when it used to be in June, a time when the capital’s hospitals were stressed. “Even with the increase in the number of hospitalisations, the proportion of deaths isn’t that high. And, this is as a result of the standardised remedy protocol that is now in place. Doctors have understood the importance of high drift nasal oxygen, started proning patients to strengthen their oxygen saturation, started administering antiviral medications and steroids, and naturally administering plasma therapy,” he added.
Since the June spike, Delhi has beefed up its Covid-19 hospital resources. The city has ordered all private hospitals to reserve 20% of their beds for Covid-19 patients, the army set up a new a field hospital, the operations of two of Delhi governments newly constructed hospitals were expedited and makeshift hospitals were created adjacent to existing ones and in banquet halls.
A number of the people hospitalised in Delhi are also many who aren’t from the city. Over 30% of all hospital admissions because of Covid-19 in Delhi were patients from neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan, according to the Delhi government.
Among them used to be a 53-year-old patient from Saharanpur who used to be brought to the Sir Ganga Ram hospital after doctors in his UP hometown detected pneumonia patches in his lungs. “We booked a car immediately and landed up in Gangaram hospital because I have faith in the doctors here. Alternatively, the doctors told us that there have been no ICU beds to be had and we must wait. Our circle of relatives suggested we take him to other hospitals nearby but we did not wish to. So, we waited for a bed to grow to be to be had in the emergency branch. He used to be admitted there for two days,” said the patient’s son, who asked not to be named or for his father to be identified.
Dr DK Sharma, the medical superintendent of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) agreed this used to be probably the most factors. “The number of hospitalisations are on the upward push in Delhi chiefly as a result of two reasons — one, the migrant population is returning to the city as the economic activities are picking up and are then getting the disease; two, large number of people from the neighbouring and every so often even far absent states are travelling to Delhi for remedy. For instance, in AIIMS 35-40% of the Covid-19 admissions are in people from other states,” he said.
“There is probably not bed to be had in the hospital of your choice, then again, there will definitely be a bed to be had for you,” said Sharma.
Doctors say you will need to remind people to not grow to be complacent. “We have seen a rise in numbers previously few weeks for chiefly the below mentioned points: 1) the number of tests have gone up, thereby pushing up the diagnosis of the disease; 2) Delhi has eased its earlier lockdown norms. This is visible with increasing traffic and in markets and offices re-opening. People should be careful in observing social distancing, wearing masks and following hygiene steps because the transmission of virus has picked up pace,” said Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, group medical director, Max Healthcare.