Even as majority of the beds for COVID-19 patients lie currently vacant, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has initiated a massive exercise to increase the bed capacity across the city. Foreseeing its need with the rapidly rising number of cases, the civic body has decided to increase up to 20,000 beds in Dedicated COVID-19 Hospitals (DCH) and Dedicated COVID-19 Health Centre (DCHC) and up to 50,000 beds in COVID-19 care centre 1 (CCC1) and COVID-19 care centre 2 (CCC2) in the next two weeks.
According to the civic officials, currently, more than 50 per cent of the COVID-19 beds in civic- and private-run hospitals are vacant even though there has been a surge in the active cases across the city. However, the footfall of patients has increased in jumbo COVID-19 facilities and hospitals as compared to January and February this year.
Officials have attributed the vacancy to more cases being detected in high rises, where people have separate rooms and wish to isolate themselves at home. At the same time, the demand for oxygen beds has increased. "As on Tuesday, nearly 80 per cent to 82 per cent of the people detected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic. Nearly 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the patients have mild symptoms and only 1 per cent to 2 per cent of the patients show symptoms. Hence, the demand for beds is less now. However, we expect the demand to rise in the next few weeks and are preparing for the worst," Additional Municipal Commissioner (Health) Suresh Kakani told the Free Press Journal.
Currently, the number of beds in DCH and DCHC is around 14,000. “We will increase it by 4,000 to make it 18,000 in the next four days,” he added. “The number of beds will be further increased to 20,000 in the coming weeks. In CCC1 and CCC2, we have a target of increasing the bed capacity up to 50,000 by a week or two. The target is to reactivate two CCC1 and CCC2 in each ward. We can think of increasing the number to three per ward subsequently if required," he said.
The city’s average growth and doubling rates —indicative factors of the extent of the spread of the virus in the city— have seen a sharp increase and a dip, respectively. The doubling rate has dipped to 97 days.
According to the civic body, the bed capacity will be reactivated and resumed in nine suburban hospitals, including KB Bhabha Hospital (Bandra), SK Patil Hospital (Malad), Dr Ambedkar Hospital (Kandivali Shatabdi), Bhagwati Hospital in Borivali, KB Bhabha Hospital (Kurla), Maa Hospital (Chembur), Madan Malviya Hospital (Govandi), Rajawadi Hospital (Ghatkopar) and MT Agarwal (Mulund). BMC has instructed these hospitals to provide beds in two days and admit COVID-19 patients. "We have scaled up our strategy to fight the virus. Our focus is now to increase the capacity of testing, vaccination and infrastructure. We are in a better position now than the surge earlier," said Kakani.