India Coronavirus Dispatch: Delhi hospitals running out of ventilator beds

Photo: Bloomberg
Delhi’s ventilators beds: Even as Covid-19 cases continue to rise, Delhi hospitals are fast running out of ventilator beds. Out f the total 98 hospitals offering ventilator beds, 49 hospitals have run out of ventilators and only 37 per cent of the total ventilator beds were available as of September 24. The Delhi government had earlier issued an order reserving 80 per cent of the beds in private hospitals for Covid patients but this was challenged by the hospitals. Put hospital authorities say government hospitals should increase their ICU capacity first instead of shifting the burden on to them. Reserving 80 per cent of the beds for Covid patients will affect their non-Covid treatment, they say. Further, according to them, some of the private hospitals in Delhi are among the best in the country and hence their services should not be hampered with. A more alarming fact is that of the total 98, ventilator beds in 70 hospitals are either already occupied or reaching full capacity. Read more here

Private hospitals see huge losses: The pandemic rekindled the debate around affordability in healthcare after rate cards of a Delhi hospital went viral. This analysis of corporate filings by different private hospitals, however, shows that they have taken a huge hit amid the pandemic as well. The total income of Fortis Healthcare, for example, fell by Rs 532.4 crore or 46.8 per cent from Rs 1,138.3 crore in April-June 2019. Industry officials and experts attribute the losses to a fall in elective surgeries and non-Covid treatments. Further, they blame the high costs of sanitising for the losses, too. Monetary bonuses to staff to help retain them were also involved. Read more here

Fighting fear and stigma: The first case of Covid-19 in Rajiwada, a small fishing village in Maharashtra, wreaked havoc. Social stigma and fear of the virus itself drove many into their homes and they refused to cooperate with authorities. A few fishermen eventually converted a local school into a fever clinic and pooled in private doctors for treatment and counselling. Horror stories of those admitted to government hospitals, however, worsened the situation. Lack of facilities and neglect on part of hospital staff left many villagers scarred. Data shows that across the state 40 per cent of those who succumbed to Covid-19 died within a day of hospitalisation, indicating they reached after turning critical. Fear and stigma in many of these cases were the direct cause of the delay. Communicating to the people in the rural hinterlands, experts say, is an essential going forward. Read more here

In Numbers

Over 2,000 containment zones in Delhi: Delhi’s containment zones are mainly concentrated in certain densely packed residential areas. These include regions such as Rohini, Pitampura, Dwarka and Burari among others. Official records also show that these containment zones are home to over a quarter of the active Covid-19 cases in every district, ranging from 27.3 per cent in the North to 26.02 per cent in the West district. Further, there might be a need to re-work the ‘sealing’ strategy adopted by DDMA since in every district there are a few areas where more lanes and buildings in clusters have been sealed compared to others. Delhi’s containment zone policy was changed somewhere in mid-June, when it was decided to shift focus to micro-containment rather than sealing whole neighbourhoods. Read more here

New cases exceed recoveries: For six consecutive days India had been reporting more number of daily recoveries than Covid cases, raising hope for a slowdown in the spread of the virus. This streak, however, has been broken. The streak was broken by a decline in the number of recoveries rather than a spike in the number of cases. Thursday saw a  total of 86,052 new confirmed cases, slightly lower than the 86,508 detected a day earlier, but the recoveries dropped from 87,374 to 81,177. The number of active cases also went up to 970,000 on Thursday. Read more here

Understanding Covid-19

Silent Covid-19: One in five people could be walking around with ‘silent’ Covid-19, according to a new study. Researchers now believe it’s these people who are driving the pandemic worldwide. Silent Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic ones. The authors of the study have suggested expanding the scope of testing to include asymptomatic patients, especially those in high-risk settings, as well. The study also confirms a fear that many have: those with asymptomatic Covid-19 have similar viral load as those exhibiting symptoms. Further, monitoring these people is important to understand if they’re actually asymptomatic or just in the pre-symptomatic stages to better understand the nature and spread of the virus. Doing this, however, is challenging considering the fact that the people are symptomless. Read more here

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