Hospitals stare at tougher time
The Covid pandemic has entered a phase where hospitals across the country are being pushed to their limits.
General beds are scarce, while it requires days of queues and lobbying to get critical care beds.
With more and more Covid patients needing hospital admission, Health Minister Zahid Maleque yesterday said the healthcare system is overwhelmed.
"There will be no space in hospitals for patients if the novel coronavirus infections continue to rise," he told journalists.
Yesterday, three out of every 10 samples tested positive for Covid.
About one-third of the hospitals providing Covid treatment had bed occupancy rate of more than 75 percent over the past week, according to government data.
There are 336 Covid-dedicated hospitals in the country, and 24 of those are at full capacity with no empty bed, shows data from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The intensive care units (ICUs) in almost all of these hospitals are filled to capacity.
The ICU bed occupancy rate at hospitals across the country was 87 percent yesterday.
Talking to journalists, Zahid said, "To bring down the number of Covid patients, we have to reduce infections."
Everyone has to abide by the restrictions during the ongoing lockdown to reduce Covid cases, he noted.
Mentioning that virus infections have been rising in many places, the minister said the hospitals are under immense pressure due to rush of Covid patients.
"If Covid infections continue like this, there will be no place in the hospitals.
"…There is no alternative but to follow the health safety rules."
At least 24 districts are especially at risk as they had Covid infection rate above the national average of 30 percent and three-quarters of the hospital beds full, according to DGHS data.
The situation is alarming, given that many of these districts have only one or two Covid-dedicated hospitals, meaning patients are left with nowhere to go for treatment.
For example, the Covid positivity rate was 51 percent in Barishal. But it has only two Covid-dedicated hospitals and both are completely occupied.
The rate was 53 percent in Rajbari which has only one Covid-dedicated hospital. And 92 percent of the beds there was occupied yesterday.
Chattogram saw virus positivity rate of 40 percent. It has 13 Covid-dedicated hospitals, three of which were at full capacity and the rest three-quarters full.
Talking to The Daily Star, Brig Gen SM Humayun Kabir, director of Chattogram Medical College Hospital, said, "We already increased the number of beds for Covid patients to 300 from 100. As of today [yesterday], 304 Covid patients are receiving treatment here. The rush of patients is increasing every day."
In Mymensingh, the positivity rate was 23 percent, lower than the national average,but Mymensingh Medical College Hospital had to admit patients twice its capacity.
There are 230 beds at the hospital which had to take in 478 patients.
In 24 hours till 8:00am yesterday, 228 people died from Covid, said the DGHS.
The number of Covid deaths in the country stood at 19,274 till yesterday with a death rate of 1.65 percent.
At least 11,291 new infections were recorded in the 24 hours. A total of 37,587 samples were tested during the period.
Meanwhile, the health minister said the government is planning to administer one crore Covid vaccine jabs a month.
"We have calculated that we will get 21 crore doses and we are planning according to that."
He claimed that the facilities are there to store eight crore doses at a time.
Zahid also said the government can currently store at a time 30 lakh vaccine jabs that need to be kept at ultra-low temperature.
Arrangements are being made to increase the capacity to one crore, he added.