Covid resurgence: Bengal reeling under scarcity of beds

The family members of Manas Santra – a 51-year-old businessman from South Kolkata who was detected with Covid-19 on Sunday mornin — allege he was rejected by all the government hospitals before he was admitted to a private nursing home where there is hardly any facility to treat a covid patient.

‘The local doctor treating him told that his oxygen level is going down and he needs oxygen support and so he will have to be admitted in a hospital immediately. We took an ambulance and tried in all the government hospitals but we know the government hospitals can give us the best treatment but all the hospitals refused and finally we had to get him admitted in a private hospital. He is undergoing treatment there but we are trying to shift him in a government health care facility soon,’ Santra’s elder brother said.

Manas is not alone: thousands of patients in and around the city are experiencing the shortage of beds and the scarcity of medicines after the second wave of Covid-19 lashed the city in the last 15 days.

Not only common people, those closely associated with the government are also facing trouble getting patients admitted in government hospitals. A senior physician who is at the forefront of strategising the state’s Covid response as part of the expert committee, faced problems getting beds for three patients, one of them a former judge, and the other his relative. Another senior health department official who is coordinating Covid management had a trying time finding a bed for a relative.

With the daily increase of positive cases doubling in little more than a week coupled with lack of beds and paucity of emergency medicines like Remdesivir and Tollizumab (Actemera) the state as well as the city is reeling under the head of Covid virus. The health department recorded 8419 positive cases in the state on Sunday which has doubled its count in just eight days when it was 4043 on April 10.

Kolkata also doubled its count in a week. The number of cases jumped from 1109 on April 11 to 2197 on April 18. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to augment the supply of emergency medicine and vaccine in the state.

‘The situation is alarming and the state government has decided to untilise nearly 86 per cent of the beds in government facilities for the purpose of Covid treatment,’ a senior official of the health department said. There are 5,157 Covid beds in the city. Officially, Kolkata had 13,773 active cases on Sunday, with 2,197 new cases reported over the last 24 hours. Across Bengal, too, the new case count (8,419) was the highest ever, taking the total active case count to 49,638.

‘The state government has increased 1000 beds in the last 4 days and we will increase 3500 beds in the next few days. All the hospitals in the government sector including ESI, a total of 100 is being prepared for Covid patients. We have also spoken to 58 private hospitals to ensure a greater number of Covid beds. We will use hotels as hospitals if needed’.