Hospitals still untested by rising Covid admissions

Most healthcare facilities still have plenty of beds, intensive care units (ICUs) and oxygen facilities available

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The number of hospitalizations from Covid-19 continues to creep upwards in the country, but the situation remains under control at hospitals.

Omicron is also continuing to displace delta as the dominant variant of Covid-19, with 69% of positive cases in Dhaka in the first two weeks of January being from the former, according to icddr,b.

Most healthcare facilities still have plenty of beds, intensive care units (ICUs) and oxygen facilities available. 

On January 1, a total of 926 patients were undergoing treatment in Covid-19 general wards, ICUs, and High Dependency Units (HDUs) across the country. The number of admitted patients had increased to 2,395 on January 22, and it reached 2,624 on January 28.

In the first week of the month, nearly 94% of general beds were vacant. In the second week the number had dropped to 91%, then to 84% and 80% in the third and fourth weeks, respectively.

The Covid-19 infection rate has also risen since last week, with the infection rate at 28% on January 22 compared to the current infection rate of 31%.

However, Professor Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, said the infection rate was unlikely to rise much higher and may plateau soon.

“The virus is not able to find vulnerable people to attack due to our mass vaccination efforts and immunity of the people who have already recovered from Covid. Although the infection rate is increasing, it won’t rise much higher in the coming days,” he said. 

The expert's projection is supported by the number of empty ICUs in some divisions, with more than half of them unoccupied in Chattogram metropolitan, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Khulna and Barisal.

At the same time, HDUs in Mymensingh and Rajshahi were completely empty of patients as of the fourth week of January.

Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Line Director (Disease Control) Dr Md Nazmul Islam in a press conference on Sunday said the infection rate has been rising and the highest infection rate of 32.4% was recorded on Jan 25.

“Our healthcare facilities are still capable of handling the patients. However, the may feel pressure if things start to get worse,” he added. 

According to DGHS data, the number of patients undergoing treatment at hospitals for Covid-19 increased by nearly 260% from Jan 1 to Jan 28.

However, 80% of general beds of all hospitals in the country remain empty, as well as 75% per cent of all the ICUs, and 78% per cent of all the HDUs.

Pressure of patients higher in Dhaka

About 30% of beds in the Dhaka division area were occupied as of January 28, which is 10% higher than the national occupancy rate. 

There are 32 public and private Covid-19 hospitals in Dhaka. They include 4,736 general beds, 778 ICU beds, and 520 HDU beds.

At the beginning of the month, 94% of general beds, 89% of ICUs, and 91% of HDUs dedicated for Covid-19 patients were vacant in the capital. On January 28, the number of vacant general, ICU and HDU beds dropped to 70%, 77%, and 75%, respectively.

Public hospitals were facing more patients than private hospitals, with 81% beds empty at private hospitals in comparison to the 72% at govt Covid dedicated hospitals.

Prof Nazrul Islam praised the government’s efforts to increase the capacity of the country’s healthcare.

“I was very vocal throughout last year about the necessity of ICUs, and I have seen a countrywide upgrade in healthcare capacity. At the same time, the nature of Omicron is that it can infect a lot of people in a short time, but the severity is much less than the previous alpha or delta. So, more people are receiving treatment at home,” he added.

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