Health experts fear the city hospitals will run out of beds in a few weeks if the infection rate doesn't come down
The Covid-19 situation is showing no signs of abating, and a mounting number of infections in the capital Dhaka is adding to the strain on city hospitals.
Densely populated Dhaka has been a hotspot for infections ever since the pandemic made its way into Bangladesh in March last year. Stringent health safety measures had brought the infection rate in the capital under control, but it has now skyrocketed to 28.23% from 3.45% just a month ago.
Health experts fear hospital beds in Dhaka will run out in a few weeks if the infection rate is not brought back down.
On June 7, a total of 7,786 samples were tested, with 269 coming back positive, amounting to an Infection rate of 3.45% in the districts of Dhaka. On Tuesday, a total of 13,157 samples were tested and 3,715 came out positive, amounting to an infection rate of 28.23%.
So far, Dhaka district has recorded 5,591 Covid-19 deaths, which is 36.32% of the total deaths across the country.
Dhaka city has 839 Covid-19 Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and only 262 were vacant as of Tuesday. Of the 5,624 beds at different Covid-19 hospital units in the city, 2,396 were vacant, according to DGHS data.
A month ago, on June 7, Dhaka city had 5,129 hospital beds for Covid-19 patients and the majority of them (4,155) were available. Of 814 Covid-19 ICUs, 641 were vacant.
Meanwhile, the country yet again reported its highest single-day caseload with 11,525 new Covid-19 cases detected in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning. Bangladesh had also broken records for single-day infections and deaths the previous day.
Hospital may run out of beds
Brig Gen Mohamamd Nazmul Haque, director of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), told Dhaka Tribune that the next week or two were crucial to assess the Covid-19 situation in Dhaka, as public movement has been limited to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“On Tuesday, we had 52 new patients in our Covid-19 unit and released 36. Patients who need hospitalization now were infected roughly two weeks ago, when there was no strict lockdown in the city,” he told this correspondent, hoping that the lockdown would have a meaningful impact on infections in Dhaka.
If the upward trend of infections continued for the next few weeks despite the lockdown, the DMCH Covid-19 unit would be overwhelmed, he said.
Regarding measures toward increasing hospital beds for Covid-19 patients at DMCH, he said the hospital authorities had not received any order from the health authorities yet.
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Prof Md Morshed, pro vice-chancellor of Holy Family Red Crescent Medical College and general secretary of the Society of Microbiology, told Dhaka Tribune it was crucial to stop hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.
“As of [Tuesday], we had 60% of the Covid-19 unit beds vacant. It might sound like a lot, but I am pretty sure we will run out of beds soon if the infection rate keeps going up at this rate,” he said.
He also said any further expansion of Covid-19 treatment facilities was unrealistic, as hospitals were limited by manpower and space as well.
“I am not denying that more beds would be better, but we need to provide treatment to patients suffering from conditions other than Covid-19 as well,” Prof Morshed added.
Vaccination, social distancing and following health guidelines were the keys to curbing the infection rate, he further said.
“If the infection rate goes down and more people develop immunity to the virus, fewer people will need hospitalization. This is the only way to prevent the health care system in Dhaka from breaking down,” Prof Morshed told Dhaka Tribune.