The crisis of both intensive care units (ICU) and general beds has deepened in hospitals across the country, particularly in the capital, with the surge in coronavirus cases.
“The bed occupancy by Covid-19 patients has already crossed the existing capacity in many hospitals across the country. The bed occupancy in urban hospitals, particularly in Dhaka, reached nearly hundred per cent,” Prof Dr Robed Amin, spokesperson for the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.
Amid the surge of Covid-19 patients, the government is setting up a field hospital at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), which is likely to be opened on August 7, hospital sources said.
Health and family welfare minister Zahid Maleque on Tuesday said already 90 percent of beds and 95 percent ICU beds of Covid-19 dedicated hospitals were occupied in the country.
“Every patient does not need to admit to the hospital. We have planned to rent separate hotels for patients with mild symptoms. There will be doctors, nurses, medicines and we will also provide oxygen facility there,” he added.
The DGHS sources said the Covid-19 designated hospitals in Dhaka city have been occupied by over 70 percent of patients who came from rural areas as the facilities outside the capital do not have enough facilities to ensure treatment for serious patients.
According to the health directorate data, 13,817 coronavirus patients were detected and 241 of them died in the last 24 hours till Wednesday morning. The daily infection rate stood at 27.91 percent during the time.
According to DGHS data released on August 5, there were 3930 general beds and 385 ICU beds in 17 government Covid-19 designated hospitals in the capital while 890 general beds and 24 ICU beds were vacant till 12 noon on Wednesday.
Outside the Dhaka city, out of total of 16,478 general beds and 1,326 ICU beds across the country, only 4,929 general beds and 169 ICU beds remained vacant across the country, the DGHS data added. “Some beds for the Covid-19 patients remained vacant in upazila level hospitals but most of the hospitals of urban areas are highly occupied,” Dr Robed Amin of the DGHS said.
There are 2,079 general and 460 ICU beds for corona patients in private hospitals in the capital. Of them, 460 general and 70 ICU beds remained vacant.
In Chattogram city, there are 553 general and 62 ICU beds in public hospitals. Of them, 33 general and five ICU beds remained vacant.
Sources in hospitals from various divisional cities and districts said in many cases, critical patients are being referred to hospitals in the capital due to lack of intensive care facilities.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Nazrul Islam, also a former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), lamented that though Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in June last year had directed to set up ICU beds in all district hospitals, the directive has not yet been implemented.
He said the government should set up ICU beds in all district-level hospitals across the country immediately in a bid to ensure proper treatment of the coronavirus patients.
However, DGHS sources said there is no ICU bed for Covid-19 patients in six districts of Dhaka division, nine districts of Chattogram, seven districts of Rangpur, two districts of Sylhet and Mymensingh each, four districts of Barishal and four districts of Khulna and seven districts of Rajshahi division.
Hospital authorities in several districts are facing challenges as they cannot ensure accommodation for severe Covid-19 patients due to the crisis of both general and ICU beds.
Hospital sources said they are also facing a shortage of necessary logistics and manpower, including oxygen, to ensure proper treatment for the increased number of Covid-19 patients.