With a rise in hospital admissions following a sharp surge in coronavirus infections in the country, there is an acute shortage of general and intensive care unit (ICU) beds and necessary medical instruments at hospitals, leaving patients to suffer.
Hospitals are now overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients with many of them requiring intensive care.There are no enough beds at both government and private hospitals compared to the number of Covid-19 patients requiring admissions.
The ICU beds in government health facilities are in high demand due to minimal charge there as a large number of patients cannot afford the expensive ICU facility at private hospitals.
However, getting an ICU bed at a government hospital is now a matter of luck.
“The way people are now getting infected with coronavirus, it’s difficult to arrange beds for all patients. If 6,000-7,000 patients are detected every day and the trend continues for long, patients will get neither ICU nor general beds at hospitals,” Dr Md Farid Hossain Miah, director (Hospital) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun on Sunday.
Mentioning that the DGHS has taken initiative to accommodate Covid-19 patients in most of the government hospitals across the country, including Dhaka, he said the normal ICU beds in many government hospitals have also been turned into Covid-19 ICU beds due to a rise in serious patients.
Hospital sources said the queue of critical coronavirus-infected patients waiting for ICU beds in public and private hospitals is getting longer every day as the moment an ICU bed is emptied after a patient recovers or dies, another one gets admitted to it immediately.Dr Farid Hossain said the DGHS is preparing the makeshift hospital of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) in Mohakhali and Maternal and Child Health Training and Research Institute at Lalkuthi in Mirpur of the capital for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
“We’re also working to accommodate Covid-19 patients in National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institute of Ophthalmology & Hospital in the capital,” he added.
Talking to the Daily Sun, relatives of a number of patients said it was tough to admit their Covid-19 patients to hospitals while many of them were waiting for ICU beds as their condition deteriorated.
“I was looking for a bed in Covid-19 hospitals for my father but failed to arrange any even after running from pillar to post. Later, I arranged a bed in Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital following intervention of an influential person,” said Omar Gias, a private service holder.
According to the DGHS, there are a total of 2,786 general and 132 ICU beds in government hospitals while 1,237 general and 245 ICU beds in private hospitals for Covid-19 patients in the capital.
There are 169 general and 16 ICU beds in Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital,
275 general and 10 ICU beds in Kurmitola General Hospital, 140 general and 16 ICU beds in Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital, 94 general and six ICU beds in Sarkari Karmachari Hospital, 883 general and 20 ICU beds in Dhaka Medical College Hospital, 310 general and 19 ICU beds in Mugda Medical College Hospital, 210 general and 10 ICU beds in Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, 485 general and 15 ICU beds in Central Police Hospital, 10 general beds in Infectious Diseases Hospital and 180 general and 20 ICU beds in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
Around 12 private hospitals are providing treatment facilities for the Covid-19 patients in the capital.
The DGHS said there are a total of 10,364 general and 672 ICU beds in government and private hospitals across the country, including Dhaka, dedicated for the people infected with the virus.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Dr Muktadir, a physician of the Covid-19 unit at DMCH, said neither a general nor an ICU bed remained vacant for the last 2-3 weeks. “If any bed becomes vacant, it’s filled up by another patient instantly as there’s a huge rush of coronavirus-infected patients.”
Alongside the scarcity of general and ICU beds for Covid-19 patients, there is also a crisis of necessary medical equipment -- oxygen cylinders and high-flow nasal cannula -- in hospitals for treatment of patients, the hospitals sources said.
According to the Health Ministry, the government and private health facilities have 15,913 oxygen cylinders, 1,158 high-flow nasal cannulas and 958 oxygen concentrators across the country.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque recently said if the number of coronavirus patients increases by 500 to 1,000 every day, it would not be possible to accommodate all patients even though the entire Dhaka city is turned into a hospital.
He claimed that the government has doubled the number of general and ICU beds in Covid-19 hospitals in the wake of a spike in coronavirus infections in the country.
According to the DGHS, the number of both infections and deaths from coronavirus is on a rise day by day, smashing records for most daily cases and deaths over the last few days.
In the last 24 hours till Sunday morning, record 78 deaths were registered from coronavirus in the country while 5,819 new cases reported during the period.
With this, the country shattered the record for most deaths in a single day within a span of only 24 hours. The number of daily deaths was 77 on Saturday.