For the first time since the second wave of COVID-19 struck, more than 80% of beds meant for coronavirus patients are lying vacant across hospitals in Mumbai. According to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) data, 14,847 out of 18,415 COVID-19 beds are unused, besides 7,858 vacant oxygen beds. As far as ICU beds are concerned, 1,290 out of 2,445 are available.
Health officers thankfully attribute this to the number of COVID-19 cases falling below 1,000 over the last month. They believe the situation has stabilised due to the efforts taken to contain the spread of the virus, besides the new decentralised system that helped them allot beds to those in dire need.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said the process was streamlined in mid-April. “We have a decentralised system in place to allocate COVID-19 beds. Ward war rooms have also been set up, so that patients in urgent need get beds,” said Kakani, adding that the BMC had learned that patients were reserving beds directly through sources. “We strictly ordered all hospitals to not admit any patient until they get a call from the ward-war room,” Kakani said.
A doctor from the ward-war room said, as the BMC has implemented a new protocol to allocate beds, the demand has reduced and the number of vacant beds has increased. “It is psychological. Patients and their relatives, looking at their symptoms, feel they need to be admitted in the ICU or need oxygen beds, when they actually don’t need one. The problem has been rectified. We are putting in all efforts to make beds available to patients according to their needs,” he said.
Senior officials from the public health department said they now need additional manpower to manage new cases that may get added in the coming months. Hence, they have decided to outsource the new jumbo centres. “We will also increase the bed capacity as two jumbo centres are being developed. However, we are not looking at any further relaxations as there is a fear of the third wave and the delta variants of the virus,” the official said.