The hospitals in Bangladesh are filling up as the country keeps recording a rising number of new coronavirus cases but the battle for survival is somewhat uncertain for the more serious patients who require intensive care.
The hospitals dedicated for treating coronavirus patients in Dhaka have 108 ICU beds but only four are currently available, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).There is nothing unique at private hospitals. There are 188 ICU beds but 144 of them are occupied.
People with low or fixed income prefer government hospitals where the treatment is cheap. The cost at private hospitals is much higher.
The acute shortage of much-needed ICU beds means that only a fraction of the serious and critical patients will get life-saving treatment.
Bangladesh on Tuesday recorded 5,042 new coronavirus cases a day after reporting 5,181 infections, the country’s highest since the outbreak in March last year.
“It’ll be very difficult to manage the situation,” said Prof Dr Mohammad Robed Amin, DGHS Director of Non-Communicable Diseases and media cell representative.
Dhaka has so far recorded 5,118 coronavirus deaths, Chattogram 1,631, Rajshahi 501, Khulna 579, Barishal 273, Sylhet 318, Rangpur 373 and Mymensingh 201.ICU beds at government hospitals
Among the 10 dedicated hospitals, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and Kuwait Maitree Hospital have 16 beds, Kurmitola General Hospital has 10, Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) has 10, Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute & Hospital has 16, Sarkari Karmachari Hospital in Fulbaria has six, Central Police Hospital at Rajarbagh has 15.
Two beds each are available at Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital and the Central Police Hospital in Rajarbagh.
Meanwhile, the hospitals are running out of general beds as the number of patients keeps increasing. Of the 2,461 beds, 2,127 are currently occupied.
ICU beds at private hospitals
Among the private hospitals, Bangladesh Specialized Hospital has nine ICU beds, Anwer Khan Modern Medical College Hospital has 30, Square Hospital has 19, United Hospital has 22, Evercare Hospital has 40, Asgar Ali Hospital has 32, Ibn Sina Hospital has five, and Impulse Hospital has 35, and AMZ Hospital has 10.
Anwer Khan Modern Medical College Hospital has eight beds available, Square Hospital has five, United Hospital has eight, Evercare Hospital has six, Asgar Ali Hospital has 12, Ibn Sina Hospital has one, Impulse Hospital has three and AMZ Hospital has two.
Among the 925 general beds, 528 are occupied.
Expanding ICUs for Covid treatment
Health Minister Zahid Maleque had warned that the rise in coronavirus cases at the current rate would overwhelm the healthcare system.
DGHS Secretary Abdul Mannan told UNB that people must follow the health protocols and directives issued by the government to bring down the cases.
Prof Dr Amin said they are emphasising setting up ICUs at hospitals which have additional space to meet the increasing demand.
He noted that the number of ICU specialists must be increased along with ICU beds. “We don’t have enough ICU specialists,” he said.
Prof Amin said the government is planning to install new ICUs at the district hospitals. “The pressure on [hospitals in] Dhaka will lessen if we set up ICUs at district level,” he said.
Bangladesh’s Covid-19 situation
Bangladesh recorded 52 Coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours till Wednesday, the highest single-day death toll in seven months.
Besides, the country’s health authorities recorded over 5,000 fresh cases for the third straight day.
The latest figures showed 5,358 new cases in a 24-hour period until morning, which pushed up the caseload to 611,295, according to a handout issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). This is the highest number of infections in a single day since the pandemic hit the country.
The recent spurt in cases prompted the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to issue an 18-point directive on Monday for the next two weeks to contain the spread.
Health Minister Maleque said they proposed partial lockdowns for some places with higher Covid-19 transmission rates.
The government launched a countrywide vaccination campaign on February 7. Those who are 40 years or above and the frontline workers are being prioritised.
Until Monday, 5,139,679 people received the first dose, according to government data. To register for vaccination, one has to visit surokkha.gov.bd.