In an interview with Dhaka Tribune, Dhaka North Mayor Atiqul Islam also says shops from Karwan Bazar kitchen market will not be relocated to the site, as originally planned
Why did you take the initiative to transform the DNCC market into a Covid-19 hospital?
Like most other countries in the world, Bangladesh is also suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is an urgent need to create more healthcare facilities as we have lost many lives [to Covid-19]. After consulting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, I decided to transform the market in Mohakhali that was ready to open into a hospital to treat Covid-19 patients.
As the six-storey market had six lifts, a basement and a car parking facility with open space, it would be easy to convert it into a hospital, I thought. Within a couple of months, the market was turned into an isolation centre, and after working on it for eight months, we transformed it into a fully-fledged hospital.
What facilities does the hospital have?
With 1,100 beds for serving coronavirus infected people, it is the largest Covid-19 hospital in Bangladesh right now. Of the 1,100 beds, 850 have oxygen support, while the other 250 beds have been installed as ICUs and HDUs. A total of 250 beds will be available at the initial stage, including 150 general beds with oxygen supply, 50 ICU beds and 50 emergency beds with high-flow nasal cannulas.
When will the hospital be able to operate at full capacity?
We expect it to be fully functional by the end of April or at the beginning of May as renovation work by the Health Engineering Department is still ongoing.
The market is being restructured as there are many small shops there. Wards, cabins with attached toilets and washrooms are being constructed and necessary medical equipment is being installed after knocking down those shops. However, the renovation is almost done.
How will the hospital be operated?
It has been opened already, and it is alleviating the pressure on the healthcare system at a time when the country is in dire need of hospital beds. The Armed Forces are currently managing the hospital. They have already deployed 172 personnel from the army, navy and air force. Moreover, a brigadier general of the army has been appointed director of the hospital.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) will assign doctors, nurses, ward boys and other medical workers, the Health Engineering Department has been tasked with renovation, while DNCC is coordinating with all agencies concerned regarding overall management.
What is the plan for the future? Will the market never be opened?
The Covid-19 hospital at the DNCC market will become a general hospital and nursing institute once the situation returns to normal. The market will not exist anymore.
We had invested Tk175 crore to erect the market with 360 shops. We had even allocated 258 shops and earned some money.
Even so, I have given priority to improving healthcare services instead of selling goods. We have met all shop allottees and refunded their money, and assured them that they will get priority at the Jatrabari and Aminbazar markets constructed by DSCC and DNCC, respectively.