The government has imposed a lockdown in four districts around Dhaka city
In the face of rising cases of coronavirus across the country, there is little opportunity to increase Covid care facilities at different hospitals in Dhaka.
In this regard, the government has begun taking several measures so that the city does not have to face a situation where the demand for health services will exceed existing capacity.
Thus the government has already imposed a lockdown in seven districts, including four around the capital city.
Moreover, the health authorities have said they are trying to utilize the health care facilities outside the capital to prevent Covid-19 patients from rushing to Dhaka.
A spokesperson of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Prof Dr Robed Amin, on Wednesday said the health authorities had prepared well for the prolonged second wave that had caused a rise in Covid-19 cases recently.
The health authorities have ensured some 5000 beds, including over 350 ICUS and 200 HDU equivalent beds having High Flow Nasal Cannula.
All the beds have low oxygen supply facilities, he added.
Current facilities available
According to the DGHS, 3,552 beds out of 5,161 general beds were unoccupied in Dhaka city till Wednesday morning. Among them 2,253 beds out of 3,455 beds in government hospitals were unoccupied.
Dhaka city has a capacity of 821 ICU beds, with 384 in government hospitals and 437 in private hospitals.
Of the 821 ICU beds, 508 beds are currently unoccupied. Of these, 181 ICU unoccupied beds are in government hospitals.
Besides, the city has 838 beds equivalent to HDU with HFNC and 311 beds with oxygen concentrators.
The health authorities have revealed that there are 7,335 general beds, 313 ICUs, 767 beds equivalent to HDU with HFNC and 1,326 beds with oxygen concentrators.
Among them, some 4,537 general beds and 117 ICUs are currently unoccupied outside Dhaka.
There are reports that people mostly rush to hospitals familiar to them, leaving many small or comparatively little-known hospitals unoccupied.
Little scope to increase care facilities
DGHS Director (hospitals) Dr Farid Hossain Mia said hospitals had little space left to increase health care facilities in the capital.
“However, we have improved health care facilities and if the infection rate remains as it was during April, we have the capacity to tackle it,” he added.
On the other hand, if the infection rate exceeded the previous one, it would bring on another crisis, he feared.
He, however, said that there was little scope to increase the number of beds outside Dhaka. Some medical college hospitals were not able to start their operations as their buildings were under construction.
Infection rates in border districts very high
As infection rates in the border districts are very high, health care facilities there are mostly occupied. Most of the patients are referred to nearby health care facilities so that no pressure can be felt on Dhaka immediately.
Over 12,000 Covid-19 beds facilities are ensured in the country and, of them, 5,000 are currently occupied, the professor and director, DGHS Non Communicable Disease unit, said.
“We need to stop people from coming to Dhaka so that the capital -- where the current infection rate is comparatively low -- is not turned into a higher infected area,” he added.
That is why seven districts had already been taken under strict lockdown as well, he said.
Health experts since late March this year, before the second wave of Covid-19 was about to start, urged that the number of Covid-19 beds be increased, as the facilities were nowhere adequate for the patients.
The health ministry has said it has increased the capacity several times, and has increased the 2500 beds in the city to some 4500 within months.
Meanwhile, the health authorities with the assistance of the Bangladesh Army have turned the DNCC isolation centre into a 1300-bed Covid-19 hospital. Meanwhile, while following instructions, tertiary level hospitals in the city have increased their bed capacity as well.
Opportunity to increase facilities outside Dhaka
Many upazila hospitals are in poor or dilapidated conditions, which hinders the process of turning them into Covid-19 hospitals.
Currently, the construction of Covid-19 is being given high priority and work has been progressing well.
Once work is completed, health care facilities will be increased and there will be less need for people to rush to Dhaka.
Besides, although the infection rate in Dhaka is comparatively low the hospital authorities have been asked to be prepared so that if the infection rate rises any moment the initial pressure could be handled immediately, director Farid said.