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Hospitals running out of beds amid spurt in dengue cases

delhi Updated: Sep 09, 2015 12:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Dengue outbreak

In most hospitals wards designated for dengue patients are full. While in some patients are sharing beds, others have no space to accommodate more and turning away patients. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

Delhi has the highest number of hospitals in India and more beds are available for patients than the national average, yet the dengue outbreak has filled up beds to capacity even in private hospitals.

Delhi has reported 428 dengue cases over the last week, taking the total count to 1,259 — the highest since 2010 when the Capital had reported 1,512 cases to date. There have been two dengue deaths this year.

The dengue count is 1,259 till September 5 as compared to 1,512 cases in the corresponding period in 2010 with four deaths. The total number of cases reported in 2010 was a record 6,259, with eight deaths. In 2014, 40 cases were reported to date and no deaths.

Delhi has 976 registered hospitals and clinics — 338 private, 38 government, including five medical colleges — and countless unregistered ones. But it is not enough. Most hospitals are full to capacity, with new patients ready to replace as soon as someone is discharged.

“We admit only those with symptoms of very high fever or those with a platelet count of less than 50,000/cubic mm,” says Dr RK Singal, director, department of internal medicine, BLK Super-speciality Hospital. The normal platelet range is 1.5 to 4.5 lakh/mm3.

“You have to pull strings even to get a paying bed in a private hospital,” complains Anurag Chopra, 37, patient, who finally did just that for a paid bed in a private hospital on Monday.

Experts fear the situation could get worse when the infection peaks over the next month. The peak for dengue usually is towards the middle of October.

“October, especially the second and third week, is the month when dengue peaks so the numbers are going to increase further in coming months, till winter sets in around November when the numbers start going down,” says Dr Ekta Gupta, additional professor, department of virology at Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences.

The hospital has been reporting a couple of positive cases daily even though it is a liver speciality hospital.

“There is no doubt that there is an upsurge in dengue cases in Delhi this season, but we cannot term it an outbreak yet,” said a scientist at the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP). For a disease to reach an outbreak situation, the numbers have to supersede the last five years’ average figures.

“Since 2010 had similar dengue numbers to date, it is technically not an outbreak,” he said.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ (AIIMS) on Friday identified dengue serotypes 2 and 4 as the strains circulating this season.“The 2 and 4 are usually the ones that have severe disease manifestation but then there is no hard and fast rule,” said the NVBDCP expert.